Berlin, March 26 (IANS) Two quick first-half goals from Leon Goretzka and Kai Havertz paved the way for Germany’s 3-0 victory over Iceland to kick off their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.
The Germans wasted no time on Thursday and opened the score with only three minutes gone when Serge Gnabry teed up Joshua Kimmich’s chip into the box for Goretzka, who volleyed the ball into the top right corner, Xinhua news reports.
Four minutes later, Iceland was already 2-0 behind as Kimmich’s through ball allowed Leroy Sane to assist Havertz, whose well-placed shot into the bottom right overcame goalkeeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson.
The hosts should have added more goals to their lead but neither Goretzka nor Havertz was able to seal the brace before the break. Meanwhile, Iceland came close in the 25th minute when German defender Antonio Rudiger deflected Runa Sigurjonsson’s dangerous shot off-target.
Rudiger remained in the thick of things as the Chelsea defender nodded Kimmich’s cross just wide before the break.
After the restart, the hosts failed to pick up the pace whereas Iceland gained a foothold into the game but for all that unmarked Aron Gunnarsson squandered a promising header in the 51st minute.
Germany showed no mercy and tripled the lead only five minutes later when Ilkay Gundogan fired home from 20 meters.
Despite a 3-0 deficit, Iceland kept it bowling as Jon Dadi Bodvarsson forced Germany custodian Manuel Neuer into action in the 65th minute.
However, Germany remained in command on the pitch but missed the chance to make four as Gnabry rattled the woodwork with a volley in the 71st minute.
German head coach Joachim Low allowed 18-year-old Jamal Musiala to make his international debut in the last 12 minutes as the hosts wrapped up an uncontested opening victory.
With the result, Germany tops Group J followed by Romania, Armenia, North Macedonia, Liechtenstein, and Iceland.
On Sunday, Germany clashes with Romania in the second qualifying game while Iceland travels to Armenia.
“For the greater part, we are satisfied with our performance. We started powerfully and secured a deserved victory,” said Germany head coach Joachim Low.