Emerging Serbian striker Dusan Vlahovic has a long list of admirers.

The 21-year-old netted 21 Serie A goals last season.

Vlahovic scored a double in Fiorentina's 4-3 win over Milan last weekend too.

 

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE STILL KEEN ON VLAHOVIC

Cashed-up Newcastle United will still pursue hot property forward Dusan Vlahovic despite Fiorentina's €80million (£67m) asking price according to Corriere Fiorentina.

The bottom-of-the-table Premier League club are determined to land the Serbian who has also attracted interest from Juventus.

Juventus want Vlahovic in January and are still front-runners to land the 21-year-old, who has already netted 12 goals this term.

 ROUND-UP

- Sky Germany reports that Borussia Dortmund are preparing a new contract offer for Erling Haaland to keep him at the club, amid interest from Real Madrid, BarcelonaChelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City.

- Barcelona are considering moves for either of Chelsea pair Timo Werner or Hakim Ziyech as an alternative to Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling claims ESPN.

- Liverpool, Leicester City and Newcastle are all monitoring Olympiacos' 20-year-old midfielder Aguibou Camara reports The Sun.

- Milan have entered the pursuit to sign Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette claims Calciomercato. Atletico MadridBarcelona and Newcastle are all interested.

Trevoh Chalobah marked his first Champions League start with a goal as Chelsea stormed into the round of 16 with an emphatic 4-0 win over Juventus.

The holders only needed to a point to qualify and they outclassed Juve at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday to replace them at the top of Group H with one game to play.

Chalobah controversially opened the scoring after Antonio Rudiger appeared to have handled in the penalty area and the Premier League leaders were a class apart in the second half, with goals from the outstanding Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi putting them in command.

Thomas Tuchel's side were in cruise control as they made it 10 games without defeat and Timo Werner rounded off a ruthless win when he added a fourth with the last kick of the game, although they lost Ben Chilwell to a knee injury after N'Golo Kante was also forced off. 

Chelsea started like a side brimming with confidence and the dangerous James forced a save from Wojciech Szczesny with a free-kick from a tight angle.

Chalobah opened the scoring in contentious fashion 25 minutes in, firing in on the half-volley with his right foot from eight yards out after it seemed the ball had struck Rudiger's arm when Hakim Ziyech whipped in a corner.

Thiago Silva showed great awareness to race back and keep the Blues in front with a desperate last-ditch clearance to deny former Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata, who had dinked the ball over the advancing Edouard Mendy.

Kante was withdrawn eight minutes before the break, Ruben Loftus-Cheek replacing him, but they continued to dominate following the interval and took complete control with two goals in the space of three minutes.

James controlled the ball on his chest before beating Szczesny with a rasping right-foot drive after Leonardo Bonucci headed Chilwell's cross into his path.

Hudson-Odoi then applied the finish with his left foot from close range, with Loftus-Cheek having shown great footwork before setting the winger up.

Szczesny thwarted Ziyech with a fine reflex save, but James was involved again as fit-again substitute Werner put the icing on the cake when he finished from close range as Juve lost their perfect Champions League record this season.

Thomas Tuchel is not putting any pressure on Romelu Lukaku as the Chelsea striker continues his recovery from injury.

Lukaku has been absent since sustaining an ankle problem in Chelsea's 4-0 win over Malmo in the Champions League on October 20.

The 28-year-old has subsequently missed five Chelsea games, along with Belgium's World Cup qualifiers against Estonia and Wales.

Chelsea have also been without Lukaku's fellow forward Timo Werner, who suffered a thigh injury in the same game.

Tuchel's team managed three victories without their strikers, though they needed a penalty shoot-out to get past Southampton in the EFL Cup before being held to a 1-1 home draw by Burnley before the international break.

Leicester City, who beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final last season, are next up in Saturday's early Premier League kick-off, but Tuchel will again be without Lukaku.

"Mateo [Kovacic] and Romelu are still out. Romelu is very close to team training, hopefully he will join the squad on Sunday," Tuchel said on Friday.

"Let's see how this works out. He is pushing hard to come back as soon as possible."

Before his injury, Lukaku had not been at his best in terms of goalscoring, having not netted for the Blues across all competitions since September 14.

Lukaku's return would be timely for Saturday's trip to the King Power Stadium, given he has scored five goals in eight Premier League appearances against teams managed by Brendan Rodgers (all against Liverpool, including the last goal scored against the Northern Irishman's Reds side in October 2015 for Everton).

No player has netted more Premier League goals against teams managed by Rodgers (Harry Kane also on five), but Tuchel insisted he is not going to rush Lukaku back.

Asked if Lukaku could be fit to feature against Juventus on Tuesday, or his former club Manchester United in Chelsea's following league game on October 28, Tuchel said: "It's pure speculation and it will not help. All I can say is that we will try hard that he will join team training on Sunday.

"If everything works out perfectly and he trains on Sunday and Monday then okay he can maybe join the group on the bench, but there are a lot of ifs and I don't want to put pressure on him.

"He's putting a lot of pressure on himself and we will not rush things. We will take things seriously as always, have talks with doctors and physios and with the player.

"If there is something to be decided then that's good, and it will be decided on Monday evening."

Tuchel did have a more positive update to offer on Werner, however, while Mason Mount could be in contention and Christian Pulisic is fit to feature.

"Timo's in team training since Thursday, let's see, we have another training session today, let's see if he is even in the squad or on the bench," Tuchel added.

"We can only decide after his second session. Christian Pulisic feels fine. Thiago Silva will train, he did not play [for Brazil] but he has some trouble in his body and some time differences. Mason [Mount] is back in training, looking hungry, fresh in a good spirit, but we need to evaluate. He looks good, but we need to see if he can start or play 90 minutes."

Chelsea may well need the Germany forward. While they have only lost three of their last 18 Premier League matches against the Foxes, albeit the most recent of those defeats came in the corresponding fixture last season, in what proved to be Frank Lampard's last top-flight game in charge, Leicester are unbeaten in their last three home league matches against the Blues.

In all competitions, Leicester have won two matches against Chelsea in 2021, winning in the Premier League in January and the FA Cup final in May. In the last 10 years, only Man United have beaten them three times in a single calendar year.

Xavi has his work cut out at Camp Nou following his appointment as Barcelona head coach.

Barca have struggled on the pitch amid off-field turmoil and financial problems.

But Xavi wants to make Barca great again and he reportedly has his eyes on some players across Europe.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA EYE TRIO

RB Leipzig star Dani Olmo and Manchester City pair Ferran Torres and Raheem Sterling are transfer options for Barcelona, according to Thursday's Mundo Deportivo.

Xavi is now at the helm of Barca and the club great is tasked with restoring the fortunes of the embattled LaLiga giants.

The Barca head coach is keen to reinforce his squad in either January or at the end of the season.

Barca have also been linked with Chelsea forward Timo Werner and Manchester United veteran Edinson Cavani.

 

ROUND-UP  

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Paul Pogba is set to leave United and Juventus are trying to re-sign the Frenchman, though his salary is proving problematic. Pogba is out of contract at the end of the season and he has been linked with Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

Inter are pressing Marcelo Brozovic to sign a new contract by Christmas, claims Gazzetta dello Sport. The Croatia international is reportedly wanted by Barca, Liverpool, PSG and United.

Steven Gerrard is expected to join Aston Villa as their new manager, reports Fabrizio Romano. The Rangers boss is set to be joined by his backroom staff at Villa.

Fiorentina are trying to sign River Plate striker Julian Alvarez as Dusan Vlahovic prepares to leave but Juve are also interested, according to Corriere dello Sport. Vlahovic has no plans to renew in Florence and the Serbia international has been linked with City, Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, Tottenham, Juve and Inter.

- The Mirror says United are confident of landing Leicester City's Brendan Rodgers as their new manager. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under mounting pressure at United and former Liverpool boss Rodgers has emerged as a target for the struggling Red Devils due to a release clause in his contract.

Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner will not return for Chelsea before the November international break, Thomas Tuchel revealed ahead of Saturday's trip to Newcastle United.

Neither Lukaku nor Werner have featured for the Blues since their 4-0 Champions League win over Malmo on October 20 due to respective ankle and hamstring injuries.

The pair were initially ruled out of matches against Norwich City and Southampton, both of which Chelsea won – albeit only on penalties against Saints.

But Tuchel will again be without the forwards at Newcastle and also for meetings with Malmo and Burnley prior to the pause in club action.

Lukaku and Werner are now targeting a potentially pivotal stretch when the season resumes, as Chelsea face Leicester City, Juventus and Manchester United in succession.

"Timo and Romelu are still out because of their injuries," Tuchel told a pre-match news conference. "Christian Pulisic did join the last two training sessions, but it's still too early, given the time that he missed."

He added: "I'm not a friend of deadlines and putting pressure on expectations, but I can tell you that it's realistic that both of them, Timo and Romelu, have a new target, and that target is after the international break. That is what we aim for and they aim for.

"With Christian Pulisic, we are looking at the Burnley match."

Tuchel otherwise provided largely positive news on the injury front, although he later revealed Mateo Kovacic had suffered a hamstring injury in training and was also likely to be missing for close to a month.

"Everybody else is available," Tuchel said. "Azpi [Cesar Azpilicueta] is back on the pitch, Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] is back on the pitch, N'G [N'Golo Kante] is back on the pitch. They are with the team tomorrow and ready to play."

The coach is hopeful the absence of the injured players will not be too keenly felt.

Chelsea have already had 14 different goalscorers in the Premier League this season, the earliest in a campaign any team have ever had as many players score in the competition (excluding own goals).

"We have to compensate the loss of Romelu and Timo," Tuchel said. "We did score before with different goalscorers, but now it's even more necessary."

Chelsea have perhaps been fortunate in that sense, so far outperforming their expected goals (xG) total of 15.0 in scoring 23 goals – the biggest disparity in the division.

Tuchel's men also have the biggest difference between xG against (10.7) and goals conceded (three).

"Let's be honest: we're relying a little bit too much on the performances of our goalkeepers this season," said Tuchel, with Edouard Mendy preventing 3.2 goals according to expected goals on target data, by far the best performance in the league.

"Still, we have a certain stability, and we want a certain stability mentally to overcome difficult situations in games. We believe we can overcome them."

That belief might be put to the test by Newcastle, who have lost five of their past six Premier League games against Chelsea but are buoyed by a lucrative takeover that has brought the St James' Park crowd back on side.

"Things have changed for them, obviously, maybe changed within the dressing room, the spirit within the club, the belief of the city, the belief of the supporters with what's coming," Tuchel said. "Maybe that affects the atmosphere in the stadium for them and of course for us.

"But we experience right now that there is a huge value to play against us, and we have come out of these matches as so-called favourites. I liked a lot how we approached these matches with intensity and effort."

Thomas Tuchel has confirmed Chelsea will be without Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner for at least the next two matches.

Club-record signing Lukaku was injured by a tackle from Lasse Nielsen that resulted in a penalty Jorginho confidently dispatched to add to Andreas Christensen's opener in Wednesday's 4-0 thrashing of Malmo in the Champions League.

Kai Havertz replaced Lukaku and scored Chelsea's third before playing a role in another spot-kick for the Blues converted by Jorginho, though Chelsea also lost Werner to a hamstring injury.  

Chelsea face the Premier League's bottom side Norwich City on Saturday, before going up against Southampton in the EFL Cup on Tuesday.

Though Tuchel refused to put a definitive timescale on the return of his two first-choice strikers, the former Paris Saint-Germain boss revealed neither will play a part in the two games.

"They're both out for tomorrow, all three of them are out for tomorrow," Tuchel told a news conference, also referring to Christian Pulisic, who has been out since suffering an ankle injury while on international duty in September.

"No big news, for Romelu and Timo the thing I can say is they are out tomorrow and the Southampton game and from there we will see what's next.

"I don't think it makes any sense to speculate how long it will be. The fact is you never know, things can be shorter or longer than expected. The one thing I can tell you for sure is both are in treatment, both are positive but are out for the next two games for sure."

Tuchel's decision to play Lukaku against Malmo has been questioned, with the striker having recently left Belgium's Nations League Finals camp early due to muscle fatigue.

With Chelsea's fixtures before the next international break comparatively kind - trips to Newcastle United and Malmo follow the Southampton match, before a home game with Burnley on November 6 - Tuchel was asked if Lukaku's enforced break had come at a good time.

"No, never a good thing, honestly never a good thing," Tuchel continued.

"Mentally, he was a bit overplayed, like other players in our squad, but that does not mean we have to rest them. Jorginho and Mason Mount are in the same spot but they played a fantastic match, so it is like this, they played a lot of competitions with a lot of enthusiasm and personal targets.

"It was not a muscle injury, it was an accident. It is just some percentage, don't underestimate the effort these players go through. 

"If you constantly turn the wheel, and the guy wants to turn it, take the responsibility, you can get tired. These little things can make a difference."

Chelsea allowed three forwards, Tammy Abraham, Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi to leave in the last transfer window, but Tuchel has no regrets over that decision.

"You cannot keep a squad of 40 players," he added. "If you think Oli, Tammy and Michy would be in the perfect shape now, but hadn't made it into the 20-man squad, then would they be in the perfect shape?

"Of course in theory it would be like this, but [not] in real life. Nobody wants this to happen, it's a bit of bad luck that we have two injured players in the same position, we have to find solutions, there is no worry about the decisions."

Thomas Tuchel has urged Kai Havertz to shine as he gets the opportunity to lead the line for Chelsea with Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner out injured.

Premier League leaders Chelsea host struggling Norwich City on Saturday without those two forwards, who were injured during the 4-0 Champions League victory over Malmo on Wednesday.

Tuchel confirmed Lukaku and Werner will miss at least two games each and suggested it would be Havertz who fills the void after netting against Malmo.

Havertz has only started four of his side's eight league matches this season, scoring once while yet to register an assist, creating only one chance for his team-mates across 320 minutes of action.

Tuchel explained performances were the reason for the Germany international's lack of action and urged him to show his talent in the upcoming games with Norwich and Southampton to build on his last display.

"To speak the truth, there is only one way to make it to the pitch and stay on the pitch, that's performance," Tuchel said at his pre-match news conference.

"Kai was not at his highest level, others were closer to their level, so it was necessary he waited some matches - we felt other guys were in better shape. 

"He did what he needed to do, worked hard, showed resilience, determination to be more decisive, then he got minutes against Brentford, then he scored and was dangerous against Malmo. 

"Here we go, there's so much talent, so much potential and he needs to show it, it is as easy as that. 

"You get the minutes you deserve and the only thing to make it to the team is performance."

Chelsea have won 10 of their last 12 Premier League games against Norwich (D2), last losing against them in the top flight back in 1994. 

Tuchel believes Havertz, who scored the winning goal against Manchester City in the Champions League final at the end of last season, can serve as a similar focal point to Lukaku against the Canaries.

He added: "For me it's not so much a false nine because Kai is also very strong, in the last line, behind the last line, arriving in the box. 

"For me it's a big strength of his, we want this from him and he did against Malmo, so this is more what we expect from him on Saturday. 

"If you have Romelu in the squad, he is the reference you work around. We don't have him, the game will be a bit different but we want the same power, same amount of people in the box when we finish our attacks. 

"For me that does not change."

No side has conceded fewer goals than Chelsea in the Premier League this season (three), while Norwich have the worst attack so far (two goals scored). 

But Norwich will go to Stamford Bridge looking to keep three consecutive Premier League clean sheets for the first time since November 2012, the third game of which was a 1-0 victory against the side who were leading the league at that time, Manchester United.

Thomas Tuchel rallied Chelsea's bit-part players by telling them "the race is on" to prove themselves after Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner were injured.

Lukaku sustained an ankle injury and Werner hurt his hamstring during the first half of the 4-0 home victory over Malmo in Champions League Group H on Wednesday.

Belgium striker Lukaku was injured by a tackle from Lasse Nielsen that resulted in a penalty Jorginho confidently dispatched to add to Andreas Christensen's opener. 

Kai Havertz replaced Lukaku and scored Chelsea's third before playing a role in another spot-kick for the Blues that was converted by Jorginho. 

Chelsea have five games to come over the next 17 days and Tuchel said there can be no excuses for a decline in results if Lukaku and Werner are sidelined for an extended period. 

"We have a twisted ankle with Romelu and a hamstring injury for Timo, so they will be out for some days, I guess," Tuchel told BT Sport. 

"Normally we're in a good place injury-wise – we had only Christian Pulisic out. But we miss everybody. We have a lot of games to play, a lot of competitions. Now we have to find solutions. No excuses accepted. 

"The two were in good shape and were dangerous and could create and score. Now we need to find solutions and guys who waited for their chance need to step up and prove that they can do the same thing. 

"Whoever it might be, the race is on. The guys who will start against Norwich in the next game have our trust. We will try to find new solutions. 

"Let's stay positive. We won games before without Timo and we won games before without Romelu. We don't want to have these problems too often but these things happen in the season." 

Havertz could now be in line to start against Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday. 

He said: "I came from the bench, you always have to be ready, it is always tough to come in but I tried to do my best in the second half to score a goal, so it is a nice feeling. 

"Timo said they have to do an MRI tomorrow, they are top-level strikers and I hope it's not too bad for them." 

Chelsea cruised to a 4-0 victory over Malmo in Champions League Group H on Wednesday despite losing Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner to injuries. 

After Andreas Christensen scored his first Chelsea goal in his 137th appearance for the club, Lukaku had to go off with an apparent ankle injury after winning a penalty that was fired home by Jorginho. 

Kai Havertz replaced the Belgium international and, after Werner was substituted due to a hamstring issue, increased their lead early in the second half. 

Ballon d'Or nominee Jorginho converted another spot-kick to round off the scoring before the hour mark, though Chelsea remain three points behind group leaders Juventus after the Italian side left it late to beat Zenit 1-0. 

The offside flag spared Werner's blushes after a miskick inside the six-yard box but Chelsea were soon ahead when Christensen volleyed fellow centre-back Thiago Silva's cross into the top-right corner. 

Chelsea were awarded a penalty when Lasse Nielsen scythed down Lukaku in the box and Jorginho confidently sent his spot-kick straight down the middle. 

The Blues suffered another injury blow before half-time with Werner appearing to pull his hamstring while sprinting into the box to support Havertz. 

Havertz was unable to take that opportunity but he got the better of Ismael Diawara – who replaced goalkeeper Johan Dahlin at half-time – three minutes after the restart, dinking fellow substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi's pass in off the post. 

Referee Francois Letexier pointed to the spot again after Eric Larsson bundled Antonio Rudiger over in the box and Jorginho once more produced an unerring finish.

Tuchel took the chance to give N'Golo Kante, Cesar Azpilicueta and Ben Chilwell a rest in the closing stages, with Chelsea seeing out a resounding victory at a canter. 

What does it mean? Chelsea must rely on depth 

With six games to play in the next 17 days, it is unlikely Tuchel will rush Lukaku and Werner back into action even if their injuries are only minor. 

However, the two strikers have struggled for form in recent weeks and Christensen's goal made him Chelsea's 14th different goalscorer this season. 

Havertz also proved himself adept at leading the line, scoring once and play a key role in winning the second penalty. 

Tuchel joins elite group 

This was Tuchel's 10th Champions League game in charge of Chelsea and having kept a clean sheet they have conceded just three times under the German. It is the joint-fewest through a coach's first 10 games for a single club in the competition, joining Fabio Capello (Milan) and Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid). 

Havertz a handful 

No player has scored more goals for Chelsea under Tuchel than Havertz - though Jorginho and Mason Mount also have six. He was a persistent threat during his 70 minutes on the pitch, as he scored and created the chance for Rudiger that resulted in the second penalty. 

What's next? 

Even if Lukaku and Werner are unavailable, Chelsea will feel confident about their chances of securing a result at home to Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday. 

Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner hobbled off during the first half of Chelsea's Champions League clash with Malmo on Wednesday. 

Belgium striker Lukaku had to be replaced following a tackle from Lasse Nielsen, which resulted in a penalty that was scored by Jorginho to put Thomas Tuchel's side 2-0 up. 

Chelsea had further cause for concern when Werner appeared to pull his hamstring and was unable to continue, with Callum Hudson-Odoi replacing him before half-time. 

The reigning European champions have six games in the next 17 days, and Tuchel will hope his strike duo will be able to recover swiftly.

Newcastle have the wealthiest owners in the world following their £300million takeover last week.

The Magpies have since been linked to a host of top players including Niklas Sule and Philippe Coutinho, with Timo Werner now joining that list.

The Premier League club are 19th in the table, winless this season with only three points from seven games, which suggests they need significant strengthening.

 

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE KEEN ON GERMAN STRIKER

Newcastle are set to splash the cash and could make a bid to sign Chelsea's German striker Timo Werner, says Bild.

The report claims Newcastle have been "in regular contact" with Werner's agent ahead of the January transfer window.

Werner joined Chelsea in a £47.5million deal in June last year from RB Leipzig.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus are willing to sell France international midfielder Adrien Rabiot, with Newcastle linked as a suitor, as they raise funds for moves for Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni and Manchester United's Donny van de Beek.

- Marca claims Real Madrid are looking to sign Chelsea's Germany international defender Antonio Rudiger, who is out of contract at the end of this season.

- Liverpool are open to the idea of bringing Philippe Coutinho back to Anfield from Barcelona in January, claims the Express.

- Fichajes claims Liverpool are also considering a £68million (€80m) swoop for Atletico Madrid star Joao Felix, while they also progress contract talks with Mohamed Salah.

- Barcelona and Milan are top of the queue in the pursuit to sign Jesse Lingard if he leaves Old Trafford on a free transfer at the end of this season, according to the Daily Mail.

- Phil Foden has agreed terms on a new six-year contract with Manchester City, reports Goal.com.

Hansi Flick hailed Germany's attitude and their perfect start to his tenure after they confirmed their 2022 World Cup spot with a 4-0 win over North Macedonia on Monday.

Kai Havertz broke the deadlock at the Tose Proeski Arena and Chelsea colleague Timo Werner netted a quickfire brace, with Jamal Musiala adding the fourth goal to become his country's second-youngest scorer in history (18y 227d).

Flick subsequently becomes just the second Germany head coach – along with predecessor Joachim Low – to win all of his opening five games, while Die Mannschaft have now qualified for every World Cup since 1954, with only Brazil achieving the same feat.

And the former Bayern Munich head coach, whose side have scored 18 and conceded just one since his appointment, was delighted with their performance in Skopje.

"We now have five wins from five this season," Flick told RTL post-match. "The result was perfect.

"We wanted to qualify as quickly as possible. You have to compliment the team on their attitude.

"Of course the first half was a bit wild, but we can be happy that we won and qualified. We were very consistent after the first goal, so we can be satisfied."

Werner attempted a game-high nine shots – two more than the entire North Macedonia team combined – and Flick also found time to praise the striker as he looks ahead to Qatar in 2022.

"We now have time to develop and improve until November 2022," he continued. "I'm looking forward to the task. Timo Werner's second goal was the best today.

"He didn't have it easy. He had a few chances in the game and scored two great goals."

The Chelsea forward, who has scored 21 times for his country, added that his relationship with Flick is vital for his performances.

"If the coach counts on you, it helps every player," Werner said. "I need this trust from outside. He gives me 100 per cent. I'll try to pay that back."

Timo Werner scored a double as Germany became the first team to qualify for the 2022 World Cup thanks to a 4-0 win over North Macedonia in Monday's Group J clash.

Hansi Flick's side – who have now won all five games under their new head coach – seized the early initiative at the Tose Proeski Arena, with Timo Werner denied by the woodwork as the visitors registered 15 first-half shots.

However, Kai Havertz broke the deadlock after 50 minutes before Werner added a quickfire double to put the game out of the hosts' reach.

Jamal Musiala then added a late fourth and, with Armenia dropping points against Romania, Germany claimed an unassailable eight-point lead at the summit to quality for Qatar 2022.

Havertz teed up both Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Muller in the opening stages but neither could beat Stole Dimitrievski with headers, before Darko Velkovski nodded wide at the other end.

Serge Gnabry then poked narrowly wide and Werner, who was earlier denied from point-blank range by Dimitrievski, struck the left-hand post as Germany failed to make their 76.5 per cent first-half possession pay.

Flick's team, however, opened the scoring after the interval as Muller raced onto Gnabry's throughball before squaring for Havertz to tap into an empty net.

Werner was unfortunate to not double the lead after a ricochet off the North Macedonia goalkeeper 10 minutes later, but the Chelsea forward made amends.

Muller collected his second assist as he slotted through for Werner, who rifled an unstoppable right-footed volley into the bottom-right corner before curling into the same corner three minutes later following Florian Wirtz's offload.

Gnabry should have added a fourth but he could only volley over from Muller's chipped pass, though Musiala latched onto fellow substitute Karim Adeyemi's ball to roll into the bottom-right corner and seal the victory.

Germany's midfield partnership of Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich is "one of the best duos in the world", according to Hansi Flick.

The Bayern Munich pair have started together in each of their country's last three matches and are likely to anchor the midfield in the World Cup Qualifying Group J clash against North Macedonia on Monday.

Goretzka and Kimmich have also partnered each other in all seven of Bayern's Bundesliga outings this season, helping Julian Nagelsmann's side to the top of the table in the process.

Ahead of Germany's trip to North Macedonia, where victory could see Die Mannschaft secure their place in Qatar with two matches to spare, Flick lauded Kimmich and Goretzka, who also formed a key part of his dominant Bayern team.

"Everyone knows they get along well off the pitch," he told a news conference. "They complement each other and are top professionals. 

"We need them to dictate our game. They harmonise well in midfield and we're glad we have them. 

"It's one of the best midfield duos in the world."

Manuel Neuer could return in goal for Germany, having missed Friday’s win over Romania with an adductor injury. Flick also revealed that defender Antonio Rudiger is a doubt after missing training on Sunday.

Meanwhile, winger Serge Gnabry has defended team-mate Timo Werner, who received criticism after a subdued performance against Romania.

Although involved in an early penalty incident, the Chelsea striker was substituted in the 67th minute having amassed just 24 touches and 19 passes – the lowest tallies recorded by any of Germany's starting outfield players – while also seeing both of his shots go off target.

Nevertheless, Gnabry was full of praise Werner's work rate and determination, insisting the former RB Leipzig star was simply unfortunate.

"We know there are periods when a striker doesn't always score," Gnabry said. "Then, there's criticism, but we stand behind Timo. 

"He did a good job in the last game; he missed a little bit of luck, but he's giving everything, and that's the most important thing.

"Timo is not [Robert] Lewandowski and not a classical striker, but he also has his qualities; he's quick and can also score goals."

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