Niclas Fullkrug’s late goal earns Germany a point against Spain to keep their knockout stage hopes alive.
Niclas Fullkrug came off the bench to salvage a first Qatar World Cup point for Germany as they held Spain to a 1-1 draw at Al Bayt Stadium.
Spain substitute Alvaro Morata opened the scoring in the second half of the clash between Group E heavyweights in Doha on Sunday.
Yet Fullkrug ensured Germany avoided back-to-back defeats after they were stunned by Japan in their opening match, equalising with seven minutes of regulation time to play.
The draw leaves Spain top, ahead of their final group game against Japan, with Germany needing to beat Costa Rica and hope La Roja do them a favour to have any chance of qualifying.
Spain started brightly and almost had an early lead when Dani Olmo’s strike was palmed against the crossbar by the agile Manuel Neuer.
La Roja were dominating possession and marauding full-back Jordi Alba cut in from the left before flashing a shot wide of the near post.
Well-drilled Germany worked tirelessly without the ball and Antonio Rudiger thought he had opened the scoring late in the first half. The centre-back met Joshua Kimmich’s whipped free-kick from the right with a bullet header that found the net, but a VAR check showed he had strayed offside.
Spain coach Luis Enrique replaced Ferran Torres with Morata early in the second half, before Unai Simon kept out a measured attempt from Kimmich.
Germany were crying out for a recognised striker, having started with Thomas Muller in a more advanced role than usual as Kai Havertz dropped to the bench.
it was Spain’s replacement marksman Morata who broke the deadlock 62 minutes in, clinically beating Neuer with the outside of his right foot from six yards when Alba picked him out.
What does it mean? Win or bust for Germany
Germany are bottom of the group, but all is not lost as they are two points behind second-placed Japan and also Costa Rica – who beat the Samurai Blue 1-0 earlier on Sunday.
Flick’s men must beat Costa Rica on Thursday to keep themselves in the hunt to avoid a second consecutive World Cup exit at the group stage. They also need Spain to see off Japan, or a draw between those two sides would suffice as long as Germany can win by at least two goals.
A point for Spain would guarantee their own place in the round of 16.
Morata pushing for a start
Atletico Madrid striker Morata scored in a substitute appearance in the 7-0 thrashing of Japan and he made his mark off the bench once again.
He has scored eight goals at European Championships and World Cups, at least double the amount of any other player for Spain since 2016.
Fullkrug makes his mark
Fullkrug replaced Muller with 20 minutes to play and produced just the impact head coach Flick was looking for.
The Werder Bremen striker scored the winner on his full international debut against Oman this month and made his presence felt in a lively cameo appearance, having three attempts and scoring his first competitive goal.
Key Opta facts
– Germany have failed to win either of their first two group matches at a single World Cup for the first time in their history. They are also without a clean sheet in competitive matches in this calendar year (eight games).
– Spain have scored three goals via substitutes at World Cup 2022, their highest such total in a single edition of the competition.
– Morata became the fifth player to score in his first two World Cup appearances for Spain after Fernando Torres, Basora, Zarra, and Jon Andoni Goikoetxea. However, Morata is the first of those five to score both times as a substitute.
– Morata became only the third player to come off the bench in each of his first two World Cup appearances and score in both, after Memphis Depay in 2014 and Ricardo Pelaez in 1998.
– Fullkrug scored Germany’s first World Cup goal by a substitute since the 2014 World Cup final against Argentina, when Mario Gotze came off the bench to hit the winner.
Spain will face Japan at Khalifa International Stadium on Thursday, while Germany take on Costa Rica at Al Bayt Stadium.