FIFA World Cup: Niclas Fullkrug rescues Germany in showdown with Spain

Spain is set to face Japan next, while Germany will meet Costa Rica in a do-or-die scenario.

Germany’s Niclas Fullkrug scores the equaliser.

Germany’s Niclas Fullkrug scores the equaliser. | Photo Credit: JOHN SIBLEY

Spain is set to face Japan next, while Germany will meet Costa Rica in a do-or-die scenario.

Germany gave itself hope of avoiding another early World Cup exit when it snatched a 1-1 draw with Spain as substitute Niclas Fullkrug fired home an 83rd minute equaliser that cancelled out Alvaro Morata’s opener.

The result leaves Germany facing a must-win match against Costa Rica in four days’ time and also means Spain has yet to book its spot in the knockout phase of the tournament.

Germany was looking in danger of suffering another early exit from the World Cup, after being eliminated following the group stage in 2018, before Fullkrug took advantage of Jamal Musiala’s battling in the box to fire high into the net past Unai Simon in Spain’s goal.

Morata, himself a substitute, had increased the jeopardy for the Germans when he neatly flicked in a cross by Jordi Alba in the 62nd minute.

The Spaniards looked more relaxed from the start, cutting through Germany with their angled passing, and Dani Olmo almost created an early breakthrough in the seventh minute but his shot was palmed onto the bar by Manuel Neuer.

Germany went into its encounter against Spain at the Al Bayt Stadium under immense pressure after suffering a shock defeat to Japan in its opening match.

Hanse Flick’s men thought they 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 Simon was forced into his first save in the 56th minute when the 2010 champion got into trouble trying to play out of defence, allowing Kimmich to shoot from just inside the penalty area but Simon saved impressively.

Spain tops the standings with four points and now needs only a draw in its final Group E game against Japan to progress. A win would send it through to the knockout round in first place.

Germany, which lost 2-1 in its opener against Japan, is bottom of the table on one point. It needs to win against Costa Rica on Thursday and its hopes then depends on Japan losing. If Japan draws, it would come down to goal difference or goals scored by Germany and Japan..

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