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Gnabry seals Germany win in Bucharest as team stages fresh rights protest

Bucharest (AFP) – A first-half goal by Serge Gnabry was enough to seal a tight 1-0 away win for Germany against Romania on Sunday in their World Cup qualifier as the Germans again protested in support of human rights.

Bayern Munich winger Gnabry has now scored 15 goals in just 19 appearances for the national team.

Germany out-muscled their hosts with 18 shots on goal, twice as many as the Romanians.

However, the hosts finished stronger with clear chances in the dying stages.

“We could have made it easier for ourselves,” admitted Germany midfielder Joshua Kimmich.

“We were lucky in the 90th minute that they didn’t equalise.

“We simply have to decide things earlier and give ourselves a calmer evening.”

The win leaves Germany top of Group J by just a single goal ahead of Armenia who also won their first two games.

“If there’s anything to criticise, it’s the way we used our chances,” said Germany head coach Joachim Loew, who will step down after the Euro 2020 finals this summer.

Loew has targeted three straight wins from their opening 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

His untroubled build-up was reflected when he was caught on camera singing the chorus of the Barry White hit “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything” before the pre-match press conference.

The Germans can complete the hat-trick of wins against North Macedonia in Duisburg on Wednesday.

– Cryptic message –

Last Thursday, the German team wore T-shirts which spelt out “Human Rights” before their opening qualifier in a protest aimed at 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar.

Human rights groups have been heavily critical of Qatar for its treatment of migrant workers. Qatar disputes the claims.

In Bucharest on Sunday, the German team briefly reversed their shirts before kick-off with the numbers facing forwards.

The cryptic message was intended to draw attention to the United Nations’s 30-point declaration of Human Rights.

The German FA account posted “We are 30!” over a picture of the team on Twitter.

“We all stand for fair play, not only on the pitch but also off it,” said Germany captain Manuel Neuer.

“And we stand for the 30 articles. We wanted to show that again.”

Having also raced into an early lead in Thursday’s 3-0 win over Iceland in Duisburg, Germany again wasted no time as the same team started against Romania.

Antonio Rudiger put a ball over the defence to Chelsea team-mate Kai Havertz who squared the ball for Gnabry to fire home on 16 minutes.

It was almost 2-0 four minutes later when Kimmich clattered the crossbar with a deflected shot from 25 metres.

It stayed 1-0 at the break, but Romania goalkeeper Florin Nita kept his side in the game with a string of saves early in the second-half.

He parried a fierce Leon Goretzka shot, then pushed the ball around the post from a Gnabry shot after the winger beat two defenders on a mazy run from halfway.

With an hour gone, Nita gratefully gathered the ball after Ilkay Gundogan failed to get a clean strike.

Nita was again called into action with ten minutes left to parry a shot by Chelsea striker Timo Werner.

At the other end, Manuel Neuer, who turned 35 on Saturday, was tested late on when George Puscas fired straight at the Germany goalkeeper.

Then Nicolae Stanciu broke away, but could only fire into the side netting as the visitors held on.

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