Thomas Muller says Germany ‘can find things to improve’ after 3-0 win over Norway: 2018 World Cup qualifying results, fixtures

Northern Ireland opened their World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign with a goalless draw against Group C rivals the Czech Republic in Prague while Robert Snodgrass helps himself a hat-trick in Scotland's 5-1 thumping of Malta.
Germany's Thomas Muller celebrates after scoring his side's third goal of the game against Norway during their World Cup Group C qualifier in Oslo, Sunday, September 4, 2016. Jon Olav Nesvold / AP Photo
Germany's Thomas Muller celebrates after scoring his side's third goal of the game against Norway during their World Cup Group C qualifier in Oslo, Sunday, September 4, 2016. Jon Olav Nesvold / AP Photo

Bayern Munich teammates Thomas Muller and Joshua Kimmich fired title-holders Germany to a commanding 3-0 win away to Norway in their opening 2018 World Cup qualifier on Sunday.

Muller struck in the 16th minute at the Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo before Kimmich netted Germany’s second goal on the stroke of half time.

Muller then scored again on the hour to ensure a winning start for Joachim Low’s team in Group C as the world champions set off on the road to the finals in Russia.

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Germany top the group after the opening round of matches, with Azerbaijan also claiming a 1-0 victory against San Marino and Northern Ireland holding Czech Republic to a 0-0 draw.

“We can always find things to improve, but generally speaking, we were on the right track tonight,” Muller told RTL Television. “We’re very happy, even if there is room for improvement.”

Low added: “I think we played a good match, we dominated our opponents. Norway weren’t at their best tonight, they never got into the match but that’s also because we played well.”

The four-time world champions are trying to become the first European team since Italy in 1938 to retain the trophy, and the visitors quickly took the game to Per-Mathias Hogmo’s Norway.

Czech Republic 0 Northern Ireland 0

Northern Ireland opened their World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign with a goalless draw against Group C rivals the Czech Republic in Prague on Sunday.

Playing their first competitive game since their 1-0 defeat to Wales in the last-16 phase of Euro 2016, Northern Ireland relied on solid defence and breakaways throughout the game.

“We’re pleased with the point,” said Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill. “It’s a better point for us than it is for them, obviously.”

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In their best scoring chance of a rather dull first half, Paddy McNair saw his low shot stopped by Czech keeper Tomas Vaclik.

The Czechs never managed to put the defensive visitors under real pressure during the first 45 minutes.

Pavel Kaderabek, Milan Skoda and Vladimir Darida all sent shots wide, leaving Northern Ireland goalkeeper Michael McGovern with little to do.

“I thought first half we were very good at times, we defended well, we counter-attacked well, but ... we should have done better with the final pass,” O’Neill said.

“We set our team up to play that way so it was pleasing to see the players took that on board.”

Czech coach Karel Jarolim, who took over from Pavel Vrba after Euro 2016 at which the Czechs bowed out following the group phase, said he was upset with the loss of points.

“But we have to raise our heads and go on,” he added.

Malta 1 Scotland 5

Robert Snodgrass bagged a hat-trick as Scotland started World Cup 2018 qualifying in perfect fashion with a 5-1 win in Malta.

Substitute Steven Fletcher and Chris Martin also got their names on the scoresheet as Alfred Effiong netted Malta’s consolation.

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It put Gordon Strachan’s team top of Group F ahead of England, who won 1-0 in Slovakia thanks to an Adam Lallana winner deep into stoppage time.

Although only one match has been played, it is a welcome boost for Scotland, who were the only one of the Home Nations to miss out on Euro 2016.

Snodgrass scored his first on 10 minutes with a miscued cross before Effiong equalised just three minutes later from a header.

It was a frustrating first period for the Scots against stubborn opponents, but the second half was a different matter.

Martin converted a low cross from Matt Ritchie on 53 minutes, after which the floodgates opened.

Snodgrass got his second just past the hour-mark from the penalty spot after he was tripped in the box by Jonathan Caruanu, who was subsequently dismissed.

Striker Fletcher came off the bench to convert a deflected Ritchie cross before winger Snodgrass completed the scoring after Fletcher was denied by the bar.

Malta finished with nine men as Luke Gambin was sent off late on for lashing out at Snodgrass.

RESULTS

World Cup qualifying results from the European zone on Sunday:

Group C

• At Serravalle, San Marino

San Marino 0 Azerbaijan 1 (Gurbanov 45)

• At Prague

Czech Republic 0 Northern Ireland 0

• At Oslo

Norway 0 Germany 3 (Mueller 16, 60, Kimmich 45)

Group E

• At Astana

Kazakhstan 2 (Khizhnichenko 51, 58) Poland 2 (Kapustka 9, Lewandowski 35-pen)

• At Copenhagen

Denmark 1 (Eriksen 17) Armenia 0

• At Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Romania 1 (Popa 85) Montenegro 1 (Jovetic 87)

Group F

• At Trnava, Slovakia

Slovakia 0 England 1 (Lallana 90+5)

• At Vilnius

Lithuania 2 (Cernych 32, Slivka 34) Slovenia 2 (Krhin 77, Cesar 90+3)

• At Ta’Qali, Malta

Malta 1 (Effiong 14) Scotland 5 (Snodgrass 10, 61-pen, 84, Martin 53, Fletcher 78)

FIXTURES

Monday (All matches 10.45 UAE unless noted otherwise)

Group D

• Georgia v Austria, at Tbilisi, 8pm

• Serbia v Republic of Ireland, at Belgrade

• Wales v Moldova, at Cardiff

Group G

• Spain v Liechtenstein, at Leon, Spain

• Albania v Macedonia, at Shkoder, Albania

• Israel v Italy, at Haifa, Israel

Group I

• Croatia v Turkey, at Zagreb

• Ukraine v Iceland, at Kiev

• Finland v Kosovo, at Turku, Finland

Tuesday

Group A (All matches 10.45 UAE)

• Sweden v Netherlands, at Solna, Sweden

• Bulgaria v Luxembourg, at Sofia

• Belarus v France, at Borisov, Belarus

Group B

• Switzerland v Portugal, at Basel, Switzerland

• Faroe Islands v Hungary, at Torshavn

• Andorra v Latvia, at Andorra La Vella

Group H

• Cyprus v Belgium, at Nicosia

• Bosnia and Herzegovina v Estonia, at Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina

• Gibraltar v Greece, at Faro, Portugal

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Published: September 5, 2016 04:00 AM

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