Schulz grabs late winner as Germany beats Netherlands 3-2

              Germany's Nico Schulz scores his side's third goal during the Euro 2020 group C qualifying soccer match between Netherlands and Germany at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam, Sunday, March 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Joachim Loew may be building a new Germany team, but it has inherited a trait from previous incarnations of the Mannschaft — never knowing when it is beaten.

Nico Schulz set up one goal and scored a 90th-minute winner as Germany snatched a 3-2 victory over the Netherlands in European Championship qualifying on Sunday.

“We never lost the belief in the victory,” Loew said.

Germany’s front two of Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry each netted in the first half of the Group C game. Matthijs de Ligt scored his first international goal to halve the lead shortly after the break and Memphis Depay brought the Netherlands level in the 63rd minute before Schulz guided a cross from substitute Marco Reus into the goal for the late winner.

Loew said he was pleased with his team’s effort to the end, but Germany’s coach wasn’t getting carried away after one win.

“There is still a lot of work to do, everybody knows that,” he said.

In the group’s other match, Northern Ireland established itself as a surprise early group leader by making it two wins from two matches thanks to substitute Josh Magennis’ late winner in a 2-1 defeat of Belarus.

Depay continued his strong run of international form — the Lyon striker has now scored nine goals and had five assists in 12 matches since Ronald Koeman’s appointment as Dutch coach — but it was not enough to earn a point as Germany came back again even after squandering a two-goal lead.

Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman was left wondering if he should have brought on a defender as a late substitute to secure a draw.

“I thought the 3-2 was more likely than the 2-3 except in the last few minutes,” Koeman said. “I thought: ‘Take the point, or we could be the ones to concede.'”

Germany won just one of seven competitive fixtures in 2018 as it failed to advance from its World Cup group as defending champion and was relegated to the second tier of the Nations League. And 2019 didn’t start much better as Loew’s team needed a second-half equalizer to salvage a 1-1 draw in a friendly against Serbia on Wednesday.

But this win in a thrilling match played at the Johan Cruyff Arena on the third anniversary of the Dutch great’s death gives Germany a strong start in qualifying for the Euro 2020 finals.

“Last year has been closed off,” Loew said.

The result also was revenge of sorts for Germany after it lost 3-0 and gave away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with the Dutch in the Nations League last year.

“Last time we had a bit of luck and scored late. This time, they had the luck,” midfielder Frenkie de Jong told Dutch broadcaster NOS.

Sane had luck on his side as he opened the scoring, with De Ligt slipping as Schulz crossed from the left so that the Manchester City winger had time to control the ball and place it past Jasper Cillessen into the far side of the net.

Gnabry made his own luck. He collected a pass from Antonio Ruediger and drifted past Virgil van Dijk before curling the ball over Cillessen and into the far corner for his fifth goal in six international appearances.

De Ligt made amends for his early slip by leaping between Thilo Kehrer and Ruediger to head past Neuer three minutes after the break.

Depay equalized in the 63rd by finding just enough space in a crowded penalty area to squeeze the ball low into the corner of Neuer’s goal.

The defeat left the Netherlands and Germany level on three points, although Germany has played one game less. The Dutch easily beat Belarus 4-0 on Thursday, with Depay scoring two goals and setting up the other two.

At Windsor Park in Belfast, Jonny Evans gave Northern Ireland the lead on the half hour, but Igor Stasevich leveled just three minutes later before Magennis made it two wins from two for Michael O’Neill’s team.