Mats Hummels' late header keeps Germany perfect in qualifying
Czech Republic 1 - 2 Germany

Mats Hummels' late header keeps Germany perfect in qualifying

Mats Hummels' late header secured Germany a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in Prague to guarantee the world champions at least a playoff place from World Cup qualifying Group C.

Die Mannschaft, captained by Thomas Muller for the first time in a competitive fixture, took an early lead after just four minutes through RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner.

However, the Czech Republic netted a deserved equaliser on 78 minutes through a stunning effort from Hertha Berlin midfielder Vladimir Darida which crashed in off the crossbar.

The Eden Arena, though, was left in stunned silence with just two minutes left when Bayern Munich defender Hummels looped in a header from a free-kick to leave Joachim Low's men secure in at least second place with three further matches to play following a seventh successive Group C victory.

Germany settled quickly and were in front inside five minutes when Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil played a slide-rule pass into the right side of the Czech penalty area, which Werner took in his stride before slotting the ball under Tomas Vaclik.

The Czech Republic, who were beaten 3-0 in Hamburg when the teams last met in October 2016, looked to make a quick response as Jan Kopic's fierce drive was blocked by Lars Stindl.

On 15 minutes, Tomas Soucek's looping header dropped just over the crossbar before Darida saw his effort saved at full stretch by German goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Germany, though, remained dangerous on the counter and could have extended their lead in the 21st minute following a break down the right.

Muller cut the ball back into the penalty area where Stindl arrived at pace, but his goal-bound shot was parried by Vaclik at point-blank range.

Then just before half-time, Czech full-back Theodor Gebre Selassie, who plays his club football in Germany for Werder Bremen, was picked out in space on the right side of the penalty area - but could only stab his angled shot high and wide.

The hosts continued to push Germany back in the early part of the second half, with Ter Stegen needing to be alert to save from first Soucek and then Bologna winger Ladislav Krejci.

When the equaliser came on 77 minutes, there was little Ter Stegen could do about it.

Jakub Jankto fed the ball back inside from the left to Darida, who unleashed a stunning 25-yard effort into the top corner off the underside of the crossbar.

There was, though, still time for Germany to sustain their 100 percent record when Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos clipped a free-kick into the penalty area and Hummels got up to loop the ball into the far corner.

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