It wasn't the most convincing performance from Die Mannschaft, but a late goal from Mats Hummels in the 88th minute earned Germany a 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic in World Cup qualifying. Hummels, Thomas Muller, and Joshua Kimmich were the three Bayern Munich representatives in Joachim Low's starting XI, and they all put in solid performances. Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Sule were unused substitutes.
It's well worth pointing out, too that Muller was given the captain's armband by Low, just under a week after being relegated to coming off the bench for Bayern Munich in their 2-0 win over Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga last Saturday.
Germany off on the front foot almost immediately
It took Germany just four minutes to open up the scoring when Timo Werner controlled Mesut Ozil's diagonal pass with a touch of finesse and slotted home through the legs of Czech keeper Tomas Vaclik - Hummels started the play when won the ball close to the halfway circle and found Ozil in acres of space.
After Werner's opener, Low's men continued to boss possession, especially in a midfield anchored by Toni Kroos - his distribution all night was right on point. The longer the match stayed 1-0, the more the Czech Republic had to push harder on their counter attacks when they'd win possession in their own half. They'd sporadically get forward in the first half, but struggled to get enough numbers forward after committing bodies back in defense - Hummels and Matthias Ginter absorbed mostly everything that got in and around Germany's 18-yard box.
Kimmich covered all sorts of ground
Kimmich started at right back but he was pushed up to an advanced wide midfield role when Antonio Rudiger entered the match for Julian Brandt in the 61st minute. Kimmich was routinely able to get forward on the right flank in the first half, and he was given more license to roam further forward once Rudiger was brought on.
Vladimir Darida's sensational equalizer
Persitance paid off for the Czech's in the 78th minute when Vladimir Darida's wonder strike dipped in off the underside of the crossbar to put things level at 1-1. There was little to nothing Ter Stegen could do to keep out the strike from the Hertha Berlin midfielder.
Have a look at Darida's strike:
There's no goalkeeper in the world that's stopping that. WOW, Vladimir Darida! #CZEGER #WCQ https://t.co/xVy3QRoF2e— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) September 1, 2017
The equalizer was more or less deserved as the match became increasingly stretched, especially towards the closing stages of the second half. The introductions of both Ladislav Krejci and Jan Kliment in the second half seemed to inject some life into the Czech attack, from the wide areas in particular.
Hummels with the late winner
It was a sound performance in all departments for Hummels, but his match-winning header in 88th minute was nothing short of sublime. Thomas Muller had used his body well to win a free kick just yards outside of the Czech Republic's penalty area, and Kroos provided the perfectly lofted delivery for Hummels. The finish was picture perfect from the center back, gliding right into the corner of Vaclik's net.
Mats Hummels' winning goal pic.twitter.com/QaxPHZb6Pk— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia_vid) September 1, 2017
Germany: Werner (4'), Hummels (88')
Czech Republic: Darida (78')
Germany: Muller (43'), Hummels (90+1')
Czech Republic: Kalas (35'), Darida (89')
Germany XI: Ter Stegen, Hector, Hummels, Ginter, Kimmich, Kroos, Muller, Stindl (Draxler 68'), Brandt (Rudiger 61'), Ozil, Werner (Emre Can 79')
Czech Republic XI: Vaclik, Suchy, Novak, Kalas, Boril, Selassie, Darida, Soucek, Jankto (Zmrahl 89'), Kopic (Krejci 53'), Krmencik (Kliment 76')