Werder Bremen's Serge Gnabry hit a hat trick on a dream debut for the Nationalmannschaft in San Marino. Cologne's Jonas Hector celebrated carnival in style with a brace of his own in an 8-0 win.
Werder Bremen striker Serge Gnabry hit a hat trick on his international debut as Germany strolled to a 8-0 win over minnows San Marino in their World Cup qualifier. The world champions thereby maintained their five point lead at the top of Group C.
Cologne’s Jonas Hector celebrated the start of the carnival season in style with a brace of his own, after captain for the evening Sami Khedira had opened the scoring early on. Substitute Kevin Volland also got on the scoresheet, as did the unfortunate Mattia Stefanelli with an own goal.
German coach Joachim Löw handed Bayer Leverkusen’s Benjamin Henrichs his debut, whilst Barcelona’s Marc-André ter Stegen was tasked with preventing the ultimate embarassment - a San Marino goal against the world champions.
"We said before the game that we wanted to rack up as many goals as possible," Löw said on RTL television after the game. "It was clear San Marino's main aim was to keep the scoreline in check."
The result itself was put beyond doubt by the tenth minute after quickfire strikes from Sami Khedira and then Gnabry gave Germany a 2-0 lead. First, Ilkay Gündogan found Khedira with a chipped through ball, the stand-in captain controlling and rounding the goalkeeper before rolling the ball home.
Two minutes later, Gnabry pounced on a poor Sammarinese clearance and fired home, continuing the form which has seen him net four times in nine appearances for Werder Bremen so far this season.
"I’m delighted to have scored three goals on my debut," he said. "The manager gave me the confidence just to play my game and make the right runs and I think I did that ... The last few years have been a bit difficult for me but I’m on a good run at the moment with my goals and I hope it continues."
The 21-year-old was Germany’s stand-out player and posed a constant threat to the massed San Marino defense with his driving runs, but the hosts managed to stem the tide and put up an admirable fight for the remainder of the first half.
They won a corner on the left hand side in the 21st minute which was flicked on dangerously towards ter Stegen’s goal. A few minutes later, they attacked again, this time into space on the right. Hector stopped Zafferani in his tracks, before the Sammarinese clattered into the German full-back in frustration. Hector provided the perfect response, popping up at the other end moments later to make it 3-0.
The Gnabry show
In the second half, San Marino’s amateur footballers tired and the Serge Gnaby show began, the former Arsenal man firing home two well-placed volleys to complete his hat trick.
On the day that Hector’s Cologne teammates celebrated the start of the carnival season with fancy dress and beer, the defender ensured he had something to celebrate by doubling his tally after Mario Götze had extracted the ball from a goalmouth scramble.
"My last double was quite a while ago," Hector admitted after the game. "I’ve not scored two before as a professional in Cologne."
The hero of San Marino’s trip to Norway last month, Mattia Stefanelli, who scored his country’s first away goal in over 15 years in the 4-1 defeat, was on the scoresheet again, albeit at the wrong end of the pitch. But neither the scoreline nor the pouring rain in the enclaved microstate is likely to wash away his hero status any time soon.
Germany’s heroes on the night were called Jonas Hector and Serge Gnabry.