Germany beat Northern Ireland to secure spot at Russia 2018

Sebastian Rudy scored his first international goal to help Joachim Low's side make it nine wins from nine in qualifying.

Reigning champions Germany booked their place at next year's World Cup with a 3-1 victory over Northern Ireland on Thursday.

Needing just a point in Belfast to top Group C, Joachim Low's side overcame a number of key absences, as well as a spirited home side, to make it nine wins from nine in qualifying.

Despite being without World Cup winners Mario Gotze, Sami Khedira, Manuel Nuer and Mesut Ozil -  as well as Timo Werner - Germany demonstrated their depth as two first-half goals saw off their nearest rivals.

Sebastian Rudy let fly with a right-footed rocket inside two minutes to score his maiden international goal, his wonder strike briefly silencing a boisterous crowd inside Windsor Park.

Any hopes of the hosts marking Michael O'Neill's 50th match in charge with an upset disappeared when Sandro Wagner - starting up top in place of the injured Werner - spun away from his marker to curl in a second in the 21st minute.

Conor Washington clipped the cross bar before Joshua Kimmich completed an impressive performance by Germany, volleying in from a tight angle in the closing minutes before Josh Magennis netted a consolation for Northern Ireland. with the last kick of the game.