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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

World Cup qualifiers: Timo Werner feels the love in front of home fans as two goals sets up huge Germany win against Norway

Northern Ireland all but assured of a play-off place and Scotland keep hopes alive with win over Malta

Timo Werner was twice on target as Germany romped Norway 6-0 in Stuttgart. Getty Images
Timo Werner was twice on target as Germany romped Norway 6-0 in Stuttgart. Getty Images

With six goals in eight internationals, Timo Werner seems to be the answer to Germany's quest for a world-class striker, yet the fleet-footed forward remains unpopular with some German fans.

The 21-year-old striker netted twice in Monday's 6-0 thrashing of Norway, but Germany must wait until their next World Cup qualifier, against Northern Ireland in Belfast on October 5, to secure their Russia 2018 place.

Werner came off to a standing ovation in Stuttgart, a far cry from the jeers and verbal abuse he suffered at the hands of German fans in Prague last Friday.

"That meant a lot to me, because this is my home town," said Stuttgart-born Werner after his double against Norway.

"I grew up here and I am pleased I could score twice to pay back the fans.

"Things were different, in terms of the emotion and attitude, compared to the Czech Republic match, we took it seriously from the first minute today.

"I believe we have got more used to the system, which the boys have been using for a while.

"Personally, I am delighted to have scored so often, it's been a lot of fun.

"I never thought it would turn out like this for me and I am so happy about it."

After struggling to beat the Czechs, this was a far more polished performance, with Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil's 10th minute opener sparking the rout.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Julian Draxler netted the second with Werner's double putting them four goals up at the break.

Schalke midfielder Leon Goretzka grabbed Germany's fifth with Werner's replacement, the 32-year-old veteran Mario Gomez, rounding off a productive night.

Germany manager Joachim Low was delighted with his team's performance in Stuttgart - and Werner's reception.

"It was a great atmosphere and a lot of fun to play in Stuttgart, it showed the beautiful side of football," he said.

"It was the first home game here for a long time and you could see the fans were up for seeing their team, we also contributed our part to the mood with great combinations and goals."

Northern Ireland have all but confirmed they will have a play-off to get to the World Cup next summer and manager Michael O'Neill reckons nobody will want to meet his side in November.

A 2-0 victory over Czech Republic in Belfast was delivered thanks to first-half goals from West Bromwich Albion's Jonny Evans and Chris Brunt, with three points enough to guarantee second spot in Group C and virtually assure them of one of the eight play-off spots that are available.

The likes of Portugal or Italy could be their opponents then - though it is possible the in-form Northern Irish may even be seeded having won five successive games - and O'Neill believes his team will be one everyone is keen to avoid having taken 19 points from a possible 24 and kept seven clean sheets, more than any other European nation.

"The fear is getting to the play-offs and not getting through it, the opposition will be what it will will be," he said.

"Hopefully the draw - if and when we're in that position - will be somewhat kind to us. It's very difficult, who would you want in that scenario?

"Probably teams would say they wouldn't have minded playing Northern Ireland, but if they look at us over this campaign they'll probably say, actually no, we'd rather avoid Northern Ireland."

Scotland kept alive their hopes of a play-off place with a 2-0 home win over Malta, the goals coming from Christophe Berra and Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths.

Gordan Strachan's team are alive and kicking on the road to Russia in fourth place, on 14 points.

Elsewhere, Poland held on to the Group E summit, beating Kazakhstan 3-0, with Denmark going second on the strength of a 4-1 win in Armenia.

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