Germany routs Norway to close in on World Cup spot

Defending champion Germany bounced back from a disappointing display to close in on World Cup qualification with a 6-0 rout of Norway on Monday.

Timo Werner, who had been targeted by what Germany coach Joachim Loew called “so-called fans” during Friday’s fortunate 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in Prague, had his name chanted in appreciation by the fans in Stuttgart, where he made his breakthrough before joining Leipzig.

“That was something special at home today,” Werner said. “It’s class how the fans supported me. It makes me twice as happy to play football. It means so much to me.”

Germany thrashes Norway in World Cup qualifier1:10

Werner repaid the supporters with two goals, both set up brilliantly by Thomas Mueller, while Mesut Ozil scored one and set up another as the Germans maintained their 100 per cent record with their eighth win from eight games in Europe’s Group C.

“It shows how beautiful football can be. It was a great crowd and it was fun in front of a sold-out stadium,” Loew said of the carnival atmosphere. “We played our part with good combinations and brilliant goals.”

Loew had been scathing in his criticism of some fans who chanted Nazi slogans at the game in Prague.

“We don’t want these slobs. We’re not their national team. They are not our fans,” said Loew, who was visibly angry.

Group C: Irish eyes smiling 

With two games remaining, Northern Ireland is assured of finishing at least second in the group after a 2-0 win over the Czechs in Belfast. Germany has 24 points and Northern Ireland 19, nine ahead of Azerbaijan, which beat San Marino 5-1.

Group winners qualify automatically for the tournament in Russia, while the top eight runners-up from nine groups go on to playoffs to decide the other four places allocated to Europe.

First-half goals from Jonny Evans and Chris Brunt were enough for Northern Ireland to guarantee at least second place in Group C with its first win over the Czechs at the sixth attempt.

Northern Ireland next hosts Germany on Oct. 5, but Loew’s side – which is five points clear – would need to lose both of its remaining games to miss out on automatic qualification.

Group F: England 5 points clear

Marcus Rashford recovered from being at fault for an early Slovakia goal to set up the equalizer and score the winner in a 2-1 victory for England in a crucial World Cup qualifier at Wembley Stadium on Monday.

By beating its nearest challenger for the one automatic qualification spot, England moved five points clear in Europe Group F with two rounds of games remaining.

The 19-year-old Rashford unleashed a dipping, angled finish from 20 metres in the 59th minute to earn England a sixth win in eight group games, having provided the corner that Eric Dier turned home to make it 1-1 in the 37th.

Rashford made amends for losing possession to Stanislav Lobotka and then failing to track the midfielder, who slotted in an opening goal inside three minutes to bring the majority of Wembley to a stunned silence.

It took most of the first half for England to get over conceding so early, before the hosts took charge after halftime.

Scotland benefited from the win by its old foe at Wembley, closing to within one point of Slovakia in fourth place courtesy of a 2-0 home victory over Malta. Slovenia stayed tied on points with Scotland by beating Lithuania 4-0 but climbed into third place on goal difference.

Scotland hosts Slovakia next in the next-to-last round of qualifiers. The top eight second-place finishers in the nine groups qualify for the playoffs.

Group E: Poland lead tight field

Poland, Montenegro, and Denmark all won to keep automatic qualification up for grabs in Group E of European World Cup qualifying on Monday.

Poland stayed in first place by beating Kazakhstan 3-0, with Robert Lewandowski capping the victory by converting a late penalty at the National Stadium in Warsaw.

Denmark thrashed Armenia 4-1 away, thanks to a hat trick from Thomas Delaney and a free kick by Christian Eriksen, to stay three points adrift of Poland.

Stevan Jovetic scored for Montenegro in its 1-0 win over Romania, but his side dropped below the Danes on goal difference with two rounds of qualifiers remaining.

Poland hosts Montenegro in the final round in what could be a decisive group game.

Europe roundup:

  • Azerbaijan 5-1 San Marino
  • Armenia 1-4 Denmark
  • Germany 6-0 Norway
  • Northern Ireland 2-0 Czech Republic 
  • Poland 3-0 Kazakhstan
  • Montenegro 1-0 Romania
  • England 2-1 Slovakia 
  • Slovenia 4-0 Lithuania 
  • Scotland 2-0 Malta 

Cameroon misses out 

The African champion won’t be in Russia for next year’s World Cup.

Cameroon was the first team to be eliminated in the final round of qualifying in Africa after drawing with Nigeria 1-1 at home on Monday.

While the result put group leader Nigeria’s hopes on hold, it definitely ended Cameroon’s, meaning the one-time World Cup quarterfinalist’s revival to win the African Cup of Nations in February was short-lived. The draw that sealed Cameroon’s World Cup fate came three days after it was beaten in Nigeria 4-0, a result that did not befit the African titleholder.

There was one other qualifier in Africa on Monday, when Libya produced a big surprise to beat Guinea 1-0 in a game played in neutral Tunisia.

Africa roundup:

  • Cameroon 1-1 Nigeria
  • Libya 1-0 Guinea 

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