Returning striker, Mario Gomez scored the only goal in a final Group C game as Germany beat the Northern Ireland, leaving Michael O’Neill’s side hanging onto hope of qualification.
Just like the game against Brazil at the World Cup, the Germans were at their absolute best, raining fire on the Irish goal. Several attempts flew at goalkeeper Michael McGovern’s post but he and his post were equal to the task, for most of the attempts at least. Germany hit the woodwork twice, missed countless others and made a hero out of McGovern who was crowned the man of the match – and there would be no arguments as the Northern Ireland goalkeeper used every part of his body to thwart the Germans.
McGovern’s heroics could not keep the Germans out forever though as they found a way through in the 29th minute. Mesut Ozil got hold of the ball and passed for Gomez who slipped the ball to Thomas Muller. Muller held the ball well before unselfishly laying it back for Gomez who did the rest from 10 yards out. The Northern Ireland fans feared the worst at that point, a goal riot was set to happen but it would not.
Northern Ireland held on to the possibility of qualification via goal difference and that was enough. And McGovern led the charge as he continued to deny the Germans in the second half chance after chance. And after 28 shots by the Germans, Northern Ireland left the Parc des Princes with their head held high.
Michael O’Neill’s men will qualify for the next round if the Czech Republic do not beat Turkey on Tuesday, but if that result goes against them there is still hope Wednesday’s results could fall in their favour.