AL KHOR: Germany gave itself hope of avoiding another embarrassing early World Cup exit when it snatched a 1-1 draw against Spain on Sunday, with Niclas Fullkrug firing home an 83rd minute equaliser on only his third appearance for the country.
The result leaves four-time world champion Germany (1 point) facing a must-win match against Costa Rica (3 points) on Thursday, and also means that Spain (4 points) is yet to book its passage out of Group E.
Germany looked to be in severe danger of repeating its group stage failure of 2018 when Alvaro Morata, eight minutes after coming on from the bench, handed Spain the lead by neatly flicking in a cross from Jordi Alba in the 62nd minute.
A defeat against Spain after Germany’s shock 1-2 loss to Japan would have left Hansi Flick’s team facing a huge challenge to get into the knockout phase. But in the 83rd minute, it battled back into contention as Leroy Sane took advantage of a poor defensive clearance to feed Jamal Musiala, who turned between two Spain defenders. The ball fell to Fullkrug and the striker fired high into the net.
The Werder Bremen forward, who won his first cap earlier this month after a string of goals in the Bundesliga, had replaced Thomas Muller 13 minutes earlier as Germany desperately sought an equaliser. “We knew what the situation was, what was at stake,” Flick told reporters, adding that Fullkrug’s equaliser might prove to be a turning point for Germany.
“Things start to happen when you start to win, so maybe this will give us a boost and give us the self confidence to get goals,” added Flick. Spain coach Luis Enrique said that he was left ruing his side’s failure to hold on to its lead. “But after two matches, we are in the top of classification of the death group and I think that we have to be positive,” Enrique said.
Spain had looked more relaxed from the start, cutting through Germany with its angled passing at the Al Bayt Stadium. Dani Olmo almost created an early breakthrough in the seventh minute, but his shot was palmed onto the bar by Manuel Neuer.
Germany thought it had taken an unlikely lead in the 39th minute when defender Antonio Rudiger powered in a header from a Joshua Kimmich free-kick, but the German celebrations were cut short as VAR quickly ruled that he was offside.
Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon was forced into his first save in the 56th minute when the 2010 champion got into trouble while trying to play out of defence. It allowed Kimmich to shoot from just inside the penalty area, but Simon saved impressively.
RESULT: Spain 1 (A Morata 62) drew with Germany 1 (N Fullkrug 83)