Norway endured a torrid time in front of their home fans tonight as they were well beaten by Germany in their first World Cup qualifying fixture.
The first half was a thoroughly one-sided affair, with Germany’s technical brilliance in the middle of the park really showing. The visitors dominated possession with seemingly every attack orchestrated by the peerless Toni Kroos. With such bristling ingenuity in midfield, it was only a matter of time before they broke Norway down.
The first goal was Thomas Müller at his opportunistic best – having been found in the box by Mesut Özil, Müller fell under pressure from defenders. However, he sprung to his feet quicker than anyone else as the ball came loose and poked it beyond Rune Jarstein in the Norway goal.
Norway, largely trapped inside their own half, were restricted in terms of their attacking intent. On the rare occasion that they were able to break forward, their chances were either squandered or quickly quashed by the German defenders. Perhaps their best opportunity came when Mats Hummels committed himself too high up, allowing Josh King the space to run on and shoot. King’s erratic effort, however, whistled over the bar to the despair of his teammates.
Their misery was compounded before the half was out as Germany doubled their lead just before the interval. Müller, having scored the first goal, turned provider for the second, finding himself on the edge of the box. He slid the ball into the path of the onrushing Joshua Kimmich, playing right-back, who drilled a shot low and hard into the bottom corner on the stroke of half time.
There was little let-up in the second period. Norway looked mentally beaten, with the Kimmich goal something of a sucker punch, as wave after wave Germany piled forward. On the hour mark, Germany had the game sewn up – a whipped cross from Sami Khedira, who is enjoying an excellent start to his 2016/17 season, was met by Müller, who planted his header low to Jarstein’s left. At 3-0, there was no way back for the hosts.
Norway made it easy for Germany – sloppy for the first goal, no tracking on the run of Kimmich for the second and beaten too easily in the air by Müller for the third – but make no mistake, Germany were peerless. Mario Götze appears to be growing into his ‘false nine’ role, as his exceptional movement affords maximum space to Müller and Julian Draxler in the wide roles. Not only that, but tonight may have been the night in which Kimmich assured himself of a place in Joachim Löw’s first team plans. Marauding on from right-back, the 21-year-old was supreme and took his goal incredibly well. If can continue playing like this, the absence of Philipp Lahm will be much less of a burden by the time Germany jet off to Russia in 2018.