Defender Mats Hummels scored with an 88th-minute header to give Germany a 2-1 win away to a battling Czech Republic side and maintain their perfect record after seven games in World Cup qualifying on Friday.
Timo Werner gave Germany a flying start when he scored his fourth goal in his last four internationals early on, but Vladimir Darida earned the Czechs a deserved equalizer with a thumping long-range drive in the 78th minute.
Despite a valiant display, the Czechs are a further seven points behind in third and almost out of the running for a second-place finish. Their last throw of the dice will be on Monday when they visit the Irish.
Germany could qualify for the World Cup on the same day if they beat Norway at home and the Irish fail to beat the Czechs.
There was a disappointingly large number of empty seats as the game got under way in a lukewarm atmosphere and the Germans were quick to put a further dampener on the hosts’ evening.
The home side then came to life and Jan Kopic had an effort blocked by Lars Stindl before Jan Boril burst forward and tested Marc-Andre ter Stegen with a low drive which the goalkeeper turned around the post.
The Czechs continued to press forward in the second half and were finally rewarded in the 78th minute when a throw-in on the left was worked to Darida who let fly with a rising shot which flew into the top corner.
Norway beat Azerbaijan 2-0 with a penalty from Joshua King and an own goal from Rashad Farhad Sadygov in the group’s other match, leaving both teams on seven points and out of the running for second place.