TALLINN (AFP) – Ilkay Gundogan scored two second-half goals to help 10-man Germany claim a 3-0 win away to Estonia in early yesterday’s Euro 2020 qualifier despite the early dismissal of Emre Can.
Germany won 8-0 when the sides met in Mainz last June, but the visitors got into trouble when Can was sent off after just 14 minutes in Tallinn for a foul as the last man.
After a goalless first half, Manchester City’s Gundogan struck twice before replacement striker Timo Werner added a third to keep Germany on course to qualify for next year’s finals.
“After a quarter of an hour we were down to 10 men, so everything was more difficult and we had to adjust,” said Germany captain Manuel Neuer.
“I don’t think it was a bad performance. It was a question of time before the goals came and at some point we cracked them.”
The Germans stay second in the table but moved level on 15 points with Group C leaders the Netherlands, who beat Belarus 2-1 in Minsk earlier in the day.
Wins next month for Joachim Loew’s side against Belarus in Moenchengladbach and Northern Ireland in Frankfurt will ensure Germany a place at Euro 2020.
Both Can and Gundogan, who both have Turkish roots, caused a stir before kick-off after they both deleted Instagram ‘likes’ of a photograph showing Turkey footballers performing a military salute, a gesture seen as supporting their country’s military offensive in Syria.
Both UEFA and the German Football Association have said they will look into the incident.
Germany were dealt a blow before kick-off when in-form winger Serge Gnabry, who scored in last Wednesday’s 2-2 friendly draw with Argentina in Dortmund, was pulled from the starting line-up with a leg injury.
Can then quickly added to Loew’s woes against the group’s bottom side with the earliest red card ever shown to a Germany international player.
Playing out of position at centre-back, the Juventus midfielder was sent off for lunging into a tackle, as the last man, on Estonia forward Frank Liivak.
It was the first straight red card of Can’s career.
Nevertheless, Germany had the best first-half chance when Marco Reus curled his free-kick over the wall but against the woodwork.Gundogan broke the deadlock early in the second half when his shot clipped Reus’s boot and beat the Estonia goalkeeper from 20 metres out.
Six minutes later, after an exchange of passes between Reus and winger Julian Brandt, Gundogan’s shot on the edge of the area again took a deflection to make it 2-0.
Werner, on for Freiburg striker Luca Waldschmidt, made it 3-0 on 71 minutes when a Gundogan pass picked out the RB Leipzig striker, who fired home across the goal.