MESUT Ozil put the seal on Germany’s passage to Brazil as victory over the Republic of Ireland ensured their presence at the World Cup finals.
The Arsenal midfielder struck in stoppage time at the end of the game to round off a 3-0 win which ensured that Joachim Low’s Group C leaders cannot be caught with a game to spare after taking their points tally to 25 from a possible 27.
Sami Khedira set the ball rolling with a deflected 12th-minute effort from distance, but it was not until Chelsea forward Andre Schurrle converted Toni Kroos’ pass from close range 13 minutes after the restart that the points were assured.
Indeed, the game might have turned out very differently had Ireland, for whom goalkeeper David Forde was superb, enjoyed slightly better fortune in a flurry of activity either side of half-time.
Defender Ciaran Clark, the man who was clipped by Khedira’s goal-bound shot, almost made amends in first-half injury time with a header which came back off the crossbar, and lone striker Anthony Stokes caught the Germans cold just 17 seconds into the second half with a shot which flew just wide.
The Republic at least restored a measure of pride a day short of a year since they were taken apart by Germany at the Aviva Stadium in a 6-1 rout which very nearly cost Giovanni Trapattoni his job during the days which followed. Trapattoni did depart last month after successive defeats by Sweden and Austria, the two sides with whom they were realistically competing for second place from the off.
His replacement is yet to be appointed, but, if he was watching as events unfolded at the Rhein Energie Stadion, he would have been impressed by the kind of organisation and commitment which were a feature of the Italian’s first four years at the helm.
Ireland will bring a disappointing campaign to a close at home to Kazakhstan on Friday already looking towards the Euro 2016 qualifiers which begin in September next year. The Germans head for Sweden knowing their job is done and they can start planning in earnest for an assault on World Cup glory.
Germany: P Neuer, Jansen, Mertesacker, Boateng, Lahm, Khedira (Kruse 82), Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Ozil, Schurrle (Gotze 86), Muller (Sam 88).
Ireland: Forde, Coleman, Clark, Delaney, Kelly, Gibson, Wilson, Whelan, McCarthy, Doyle, Stokes.
Referee: S Gumienny (Belgium).