Euro 2016: Germany beats Scotland 2-1 in qualifier
DORTMUND, Germany (AP) — Thomas Mueller scored twice as world champion Germany got its 2016 European Championship qualifying campaign off to a winning start with a 2-1 victory over Scotland on Sunday.
Mueller opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a difficult backward header, only for Ikechi Anya to score Scotland’s deserved equalizer in the 66th.
The visitors’ hopes of a point were dashed when Mueller scored what proved to be the winner four minutes later.
“I’m satisfied with the three points. It was important to start with a win,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew, whose side is unbeaten in 33 European Championship or World Cup qualifiers.
Scotland ended the game with 10 men after Charlie Mulgrew earned two yellow cards in injury time. The first was for a challenge on Marco Reus, raising injury concerns for the Borussia Dortmund player.
“It doesn’t seem too bad but we have to wait for the examination,” Loew said.
Elsewhere in Group D, Poland routed Gibraltar 7-0 in Portugal on the “home” side’s competitive UEFA debut, and Ireland beat Georgia 2-1 in Tbilisi.
Germany labored for long periods, particularly in the second half when the Scots were at their most dangerous, but still the home side might have scored more goals.
“They’re very well organized. We missed one or two chances to make it more convincing. Then it got a bit close toward the end,” Mueller said.
Mueller missed two good opportunities before making the most of his third, when he beat two defenders to Sebastian Rudy’s cross and looped the ball over the goalkeeper.
Hoffenheim midfielder Rudy had been a surprise inclusion in the starting lineup at right-back.
Benedikt Hoewedes deflected Barry Bannon’s shot out for a corner in Scotland’s first real attack, and the Schalke defender was fortunate to escape a red card for appearing to haul down Steven Naismith as the last defender in the 20th. Referee Svein Oddvar Moen’s whistle stayed silent.
Scotland goalkeeper David Marshall reacted well to prevent an own goal after Andre Schuerrle’s dangerous cross took a deflection.
But Naismith came agonizingly close after the break, working his way through the German defense only for his shot to scrape the post with Manuel Neuer beaten.
Naismith skewed an attempted volley over, before Anya raced onto Steven Fletcher’s through ball and beat Neuer with a cool finish inside the far post.
Mueller then restored the home side’s lead after a goalmouth scramble, rifling the ball to the roof of the net after Scotland failed to clear.
“You have to compliment the Scots. They played well, they countered well, they fought,” Germany substitute Lukas Podolski said.
Robert Lewandowski scored four goals in Poland’s rout, while Aiden McGeady was the hero for Ireland with a brace.
Tornike Okriashvili’s fierce shot in the 38th cancelled out McGeady’s 24th-minute opener only for the Everton winger to clinch the Irish win over Georgia in the last minute.