After falling behind early in the first half, Germany scripted a 2-1 victory over Romania as Thomas Muller stabbed home the winner nine minutes ahead of the final whistle on Friday in a Group J match in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

Ianis Hagi opened the scoring for Romania in the ninth minute when he dribbled past Antonio Rudiger and placed the ball neatly into the bottom right corner. This was the first goal Germany conceded in four games under new manager Hansi Flick.

Although Germany dominated possession, they failed to find the equaliser in the fast half. Germany bounced back as Serge Gnabry levelled early in the second half before Mueller’s winner in the 81st. 

Germany extended its lead at the top of Group J to six points from North Macedonia and Armenia and has won all four games since Flick took charge following a last-16 exit at the European Championship under his predecessor Joachim Loew.

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Germany started strongly in front of a crowd of 25,000 in Hamburg and was awarded a penalty early on when Timo Werner and Andrei Burca tangled in the box. After a long wait for video review, with Joshua Kimmich standing over the ball on the penalty spot, the decision was overturned.

Germany still seemed stunned by the turnaround when Hagi, son of Romania great Gheorghe Hagi, knocked the ball between Rudiger’s legs and guided the ball just inside the far post.

Germany had plenty of chances to level the score, including a notable miss for Gnabry, before he blasted a low shot in the 52nd past goalkeeper Florin Nita.

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A smartly worked corner yielded the winning goal as Leon Goretzka headed the ball on at the near post for Mueller to put in at the far post.

North Macedonia moved up from fourth place to second with a 4-0 win over Liechtenstein. The Balkan nation aims to follow up its first European Championship campaign this year with a first trip to the World Cup.

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Another team bidding to reach a first World Cup, Armenia is level on points with North Macedonia after drawing with Iceland 1-1 after Kamo Hovhannisyan’s goal was cancelled out for Iceland by Isak Bergmann Johannesson.

With inputs from the Associated Press