BORISOV, Belarus (Reuters) - Germany eased past hosts Belarus 2-0 with goals from Leroy Sane and Marco Reus on Saturday to make it two wins from their first two Euro 2020 Group C qualifiers.
The three-time European champions, who suffered a shock World Cup first-round exit last year before being relegated in the inaugural Nations League, were desperate to build on their opening qualifying win over Netherlands in March.
They took a 13th-minute lead when Sane shook off his marker and fired in from close range.
Belarus responded by forcing a fine save from Manuel Neuer, who punched Nikita Naumov’s 30th-minute header over the bar for the hosts’ best chance in the game.
The visitors struck again with Reus in the 62nd minute after a clever assist from Matthias Ginter and hit the post through Sane’s 84th-minute header.
The result lifted the Germans to six points, three behind leaders Northern Ireland who beat Estonia 2-1 for their third win in three qualifiers.
Belarus suffered their third straight loss and are in last place, having scored only one goal.
“It was a solid performance on which we can build. We want to develop as a team,” said Germany assistant coach Marcus Sorg, who replaced Joachim Loew as head coach for the game. Loew was briefly hospitalised days ago following a sports injury.
“The win was above everything. We had to overcome some challenges against a very defensive opponent. Overall, we did it well,” said Sorg, who will also be in charge in Tuesday’s qualifier against Estonia.
Earlier on Saturday, Northern Ireland came from a goal down to beat Estonia 2-1 in Tallin.
Conor Washington cancelled out the hosts’ lead through Konstantin Vassiljev’s low first half free kick and fellow substitute Josh Magennis completed the turnaround in the 80th minute to keep Northern Ireland top of the standings.
They next travel to Belarus on Tuesday.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Tony Lawrence and Ed Osmond