Germany blasts San Marino 8-0 in World Cup qualifying

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) Serge Gnabry scored a hat trick in his debut for Germany as the World Cup champion overwhelmed San Marino 8-0 on Friday in a qualifier for the 2018 tournament in Russia.

Defender Jonas Hector added two goals as Joachim Loew won a record 95th match as Germany coach.

Germany's fourth win in four matches, scoring 16 goals without conceding, strengthened its lead atop Group C.

San Marino, a tiny republic surrounded by Italy, did not manage a single shot at Germany's goal and remained winless in 126 matches.

Still, San Marino did better than 10 years ago, when it lost 13-0 to Germany in a qualifier for the European Championship.

Playing without several regulars on a wet pitch in driving rain at San Marino's stadium in Serravalle, Loew picked two newcomers for his starting lineup and one of them, defender Benjamin Henrichs had the first shot at goal, narrowly missing the target.

Sami Khedira then broke the deadlock in the seventh minute, after picking a chipped pass from Ilkay Gundogan. Gnabry doubled the lead two minutes later following a sloppy clearance that gifted him the ball.

San Marino crowded its defense and Germany stepped off the gas a bit until Hector scored the third in the 32nd after a play by Gundogan and Mario Goetze.

Gnabry made it 4-0 after the break with a volley from close range after another chipped pass by Joshua Kimmich. Hector got his second before Gnabry completed his hat trick in the 76th, with another volley, this time on a pass from Thomas Mueller.

Gnabry, schooled at Arsenal and now playing for Werder Bremen, became the first player to score three goals in his debut for Germany since Dieter Mueller more than 40 years ago.

Mattia Stefanelli had an own goal before substitute Kevin Volland completed the rout.

Also in Group C:

---

CZECH REPUBLIC 2, NORWAY 1

In Prague, Michael Krmencik scored in his debut and Jaromir Zmrhal added the second for the host team, before Norway got on the board with a late strike by Joshua King.

It was the first group win for the Czechs, who now have five points. Norway is one spot behind in fifth with three points.

---

NORTHERN IRELAND 4, AZERBAIJAN 0

Northern Ireland moved into second place in the group with seven points by cruising past Azerbaijan, which also has seven points in third place.

Azerbaijan had not given up a goal in its previous three matches but was down by two at the break following strikes by Kyle Lafferty and Gareth McAuley.

Conor McLaughlin and Chris Brunt scored in the second half.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.