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Low’s men breeze past Latvia in eight goal thriller

Low's men breeze past Latvia in eight goal thriller
(Photo by Thilo Schmuelgen – Pool/Getty Images)

Germany rounded off their preparations for Euro 2020 in style as they routed Latvia 7-1 in Dusseldorf.

Having been held to a 1-1 draw by Denmark last week, Germany were unsurprisingly much more impressive against significantly inferior opposition.

Two superb finishes in the space of two minutes from Robin Gosens and Ilkay Gundogan put the hosts in command before Thomas Muller made it 3-0 inside half an hour.

Goalkeeper Roberts Ozols was credited with an own goal to make it 4-0 after good work from the influential Kai Havertz, and his Chelsea team-mate Timo Werner followed Serge Gnabry in getting in on the act, with Leroy Sane having the final say after Aleksejs Saveljevs’ consolation.

Latvia received a warning of what was to come in the first minute when Ozols was forced to save from Muller at the near post.

Ozols could do nothing to deny Gosens or Gundogan, however, as Die Mannschaft began to put on a show for the fans allowed to attend Monday’s contest.

Gosens rattled home his first international goal in off the crossbar after meeting a pull back from Havertz, who was involved in the build-up again as Gundogan then rifled a long-range effort into the top-left corner with the outside of his boot.

Muller, making his second appearance since his recall to the squad, beat Ozols with a simpler finish after Gnabry and Gosens combined to tee up the Bayern Munich star and make it three goals in under eight minutes.

Germany vs Latvia
(Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Gnabry was thwarted by the perpetually busy Ozols, who deflected Havertz’s cross-cum-shot from a tight angle on the byline into the far corner in the 39th minute. He was then beaten by Gnabry as he dispatched Mats Hummels’ long ball in sublime fashion and made it 5-0 before half-time.

Werner came on at the start of the second half and guided a close-range strike under Ozols’ right leg with his first touch and, though Saveljevs beat Manuel Neuer with a superb volley, it was only brief respite for Latvia as Sane completed an emphatic victory.

What does it mean? Germany find much-needed momentum

Germany lost at home to North Macedonia in March, and the stalemate with Denmark will have done little to breed confidence ahead of a Euros campaign that sees them face world champions France, defending European champions Portugal and Hungary in Group F.

Latvia, ranked 138th in the world, were never likely to provide stiff opposition but the manner in which Germany ruthlessly turned the game into a rout should boost hope Joachim Low’s men can negotiate their group and mount a serious challenge for the trophy.

Havertz & Gundogan pull the strings

They were on opposite sides of last month’s Champions League final, but the combination of the creative talents of Havertz’s and Gundogan could be crucial to Germany’s prospects of glory on this evidence.

In addition to his stunning long-range goal, Gundogan registered three key passes while Havertz played two, including his assist, and will likely claim Germany’s fourth goal despite Ozols clearly deflecting the ball.

Neuer left with no chance

Bayern goalkeeper Neuer faced only three shots and will have been frustrated to let one beyond him on his 100th Germany appearance. In truth, though, there was nothing he could do about Saveljevs’ searing volley.

What’s next?

Germany start their Euros campaign against France a week on Tuesday. Latvia are out to clinch a fifth successive Baltic Cup title when they face Estonia on Thursday.

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