Germany take over Group C lead from their opponents
Halstenberg, Gnabry on target at Windsor Park
Northern Irish suffer first loss of the campaign
Updates with details
BELFAST, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Germany beat hosts Northern Ireland 2-0 on Monday to get their Euro 2020 qualification on track as they bounced back from last week's loss to the Netherlands to take over top spot in Group C.
Defender Marcel Halstenberg drilled the ball in three minutes after the restart following a lacklustre first half by the Germans, who lost 4-2 at home to the Dutch on Friday, and Serge Gnabry added another goal in second-half stoppage time.
The win put Germany on 12 points from five games, ahead on goal difference of second-placed Northern Ireland, who suffered their first loss of the campaign as captain Steven Davis became their most capped outfield player with 113 appearances.
The third-placed Netherlands, 4-0 winners away to Estonia on Monday, are on nine points from four matches.
The Germans, missing half a dozen injured players, seemed to lack a clear game plan in the first half with plenty of passing but struggling to find ways to open up the Irish defence.
Joachim Loew's young team, looking to recover from last year's shock first-round World Cup exit and Nations League relegation, have not had enough match practice and it showed.
Conor Washington had a golden chance to put the hosts ahead in the seventh minute when he pounced on a rare Toni Kroos mistake but fired sraight at charging goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Timo Werner had the visitors' best chance before the break but his close-range effort was saved by Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
Germany looked to be feeling the effects of Friday's loss with the Irish working hard to stifle their attacks early.
Halstenberg eventually settled German nerves, timing his half-volley to perfection as he angled Julian Brandt's cross into the far corner just after the break.
They should have scored again in a scintillating start to the second half but instead had to wait until deep into stoppage for Gnabry to make sure of the three points.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris)
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