The interim manager saw his side dictated by their vastly superior opponents from the outset, who recorded their fifth successive qualification victory at the RheinEnergieStadionGermany booked their place in next year’s World Cup with a dominant 3-0 victory over manager-less Republic of Ireland in Cologne on Friday evening as the post Giovanni Trapattoni era began in underwhelming fashion.
Goals from Sami Khedira, Andre Schurrle and Mesut Ozil ensured Joachaim Low's injury-ravaged side converted their dominance into the points they required to secure a berth in Brazil 2014 with one Group C game in hand.
Real Madrid midfielder Khedira was fortunate to put his side in front in the 12th minute when his seemingly tame effort rebounded off Ciaran Clark, leaving man-of-the-match David Forde with no chance.
The second half proved no different from the first as Germany were able to dominate with ease in terms of possession. Schurrle doubled their advantage and, moments from full-time, Ozil calmly slotted past Forde.The visitors’ thankless task was heightened further before kick-off as captain Robbie Keane failed a late fitness test, as interim manager Noel King was left without three of his most experienced players with suspended duo Richard Dunne and John O’Shea also absent.
With three of his frontline strikers sidelined through injury, Low deployed Thomas Muller and Arsenal’s Ozil in the advanced roles and it was the former who had the game’s first effort with a curling effort in the opening exchanges which went narrowly wide of Forde’s upright.
It wasn’t long before the hosts converted their early possession into the breakthrough goal as Ireland contributed to their own undoing.
Anthony Stokes, who was handed a recall from the international wilderness, surrendered the ball to Philipp Lahm inside his own half before Khedira fired home with the aid of a deflection.
Having firmly obtained complete domination, Die Mannschaft were content to chip away at the makeshift Irish defence with great patience and perseverance. Forde produced a brilliant reflex save to deny Chelsea’s Schurrle before the Millwall shot stopper pulled off an equally impressive stop to thwart Muller, tipping the Bayern Munich forward’s effort over the bar.
For all their domination, the hosts were unable to double their lead and should have been made to rue their missed opportunities on the stroke of half-time. However, Stokes failed to make amends for his earlier error - fresh-airing his effort with the goal at his mercy after Clark’s looping header had rebounded off the bar.
The visitors showed greater urgency after the interval in search of an unlikely equaliser. Stokes was once again at the heart of it but his stinging shot from distance was off target. Moments later, Manuel Neuer was called into his first meaningful action of the evening but comfortably dealt with the Celtic striker’s tame effort.
Neuer, along with the 42,000 packed inside the Rhein-Energie-Stadion, was largely a spectator but could have paid for a lapse in concentration when he failed to deal with Whelan’s accurate ball over the top, but once again Stokes failed to capitalise, with James McCarthy unmarked in the centre.
Shortly before the hour mark, Germany extinguished any hopes of an Irish fightback and created some daylight between the sides. Kroos was afforded time and space by the makeshift Irish defence, inviting the 23-year-old to play a delightful pass through for Schurrle - the Chelsea winger controlled with aplomb and clinically stroked it into the far corner in one swift movement.
Germany, currently ranked third in the world, continued to chip away at the weary Irish rearguard but found Forde in inspired form - the 33-year-old had to be at his best to ensure respectability was maintained.
At the other end, Stokes forced Neuer into another fine low stop before Seamus Coleman - who was handed the captain’s armband for the night - was denied a consolation goal by Jansen’s intervention. Clark then went close to breaching the German defence but saw his glancing header pushed wide by the imposing shot stopper.
The last word, however, went to the hosts as they capped off an efficient evening’s work with a third goal in injury-time. Ozil burst into the box unchallenged before calmly chipping over the on-rushing Forde.
Ireland conclude their Group C campaign on Tuesday when the face Kazakhstan at the Aviva Stadium.