Northern Ireland 0 v 1 Germany – Euro 2016 Group C

NIR 0:1 GER – Hamilton Academical F.C goalkeeper Michael McGovern gave a performance to remember for the Green and White Army as his string of sensational saves kept a dominant German side from racking up a big score in Paris. An exhilarating Germany set the pace early with some majestic flowing football – McGovern thrice producing important stops in the first 10 minutes from Mario GötzeMesut Özil, and Thomas Müller. Müller then thundered a header against the post before more intricate play in the box from the classy FC Bayern München “raumdeuter” set up Mario Gomez to fire past McGovern to give Germany a well-deserved lead on the half-hour mark. Joachim Löw‘s Die Mannschaft really should have been more clinical in front of goal and it would not have flattered them to go in three or four goals up. Götze struck the bar, Mats Hummels had a header well-saved once again by McGovern, and Sami Khedira bundled a shot wide as Germany hardened their grip on the game. Gomez wasted a glorious opportunity to double the lead before half time when he scuffed a shot straight at McGovern from the edge of the box. It was important for Northern Ireland to ensure the Germans didn’t run riot in the 2nd half as their goal difference will surely come into play as they hope for a best third-placed finish to secure an unlikely place in the round of 16. Captain Steven Davis led by example in a stout defensive display after half time in which the Northern Irish made it much harder for the Germans to exert their influence in the final third. They still needed McGovern to pull off a tremendous one-handed stop to deny Götze before the Bayern false nine inexplicably poked wide from only a couple of yards out moments before being withdrawn. Credit to Michael O’Neill for instilling concentration in his side at half time – they achieved in stifling the Germans to see out a result that ensures they finish without a negative goal difference. More to come from the Germans undoubtedly, while the Northern Irish await their fate. It would be a huge achievement if they manage to take a place in the knockout stages.

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