Germany beat Northern Ireland to advance as group winners
By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) - Germany showed more of their usual class when Mario Gomez's first-half strike secured a 1-0 win over a stubborn Northern Ireland side and a place in the last 16 of Euro 2016 as Group C winners on Tuesday.
Although the world champions wasted countless chances, with Thomas Mueller notably hitting the woodwork twice, they were never threatened by the Irish, who qualified as one of the best third-placed finishers after later results.
Germany came top with seven points, ahead on goal difference of Poland, who progressed with a 1-0 win over already-eliminated Ukraine. Northern Ireland have three points.
The result at the Parc des Princes also meant that Croatia, Slovakia and Hungary progressed without kicking a ball.
Joachim Loew's Germany side will take on a third-placed team in Lille on Sunday while Northern Ireland will face hosts France or Wales in the knockout phase.
"We have had a lot of chances and the next step will be to take them and then this might be a good tournament," said Gomez, who is now one short of Juergen Klinsmann's Germany record of five goals at European Championship tournaments.
"If it is not meant to be for us to go through, we will be very disappointed," said Northern Ireland keeper Michael McGovern, who had made a series of fine saves.
"It was busy today and mentally very hard. We knew every goal was crucial so wanted to keep it at one and maybe nick a goal of our own." Continued...