Morata, Fullkrug score late in 1-1 Spain-Germany battle

Al Khor, Qatar, Nov 27 (EFE).- Spain hoped to notch its second World Cup group stage victory on Sunday, this time against Germany, but it took La Roja until the 62nd minute for Alvaro Morata to sink one, only to have Niclas Fullkrug come off the bench to answer back 7 minutes before the end of regulation to salvage the draw at Al Bayt Stadium before almost 69,000 spectators.

The result of the highly anticipated match is that all members of Group E – which also includes Costa Rica and Japan – may still be able to get to the knockout stage Round of 16.

Even so, Spain now has four points, with a big goal differential resulting from its 7-0 clobbering of Costa Rica, while Germany has just one point in the group stage so far.

The Spaniards were keen on controlling the rhythm of the match, dominating in terms of ball possession, but they couldn’t seem to craft many chances through the first half and well after the break, when Morata – coming on for Ferran Torres after the intermission – finally hit pay dirt against goaltender Manuel Neuer on a near shot after a great pass from Jordi Alba.

Germany thought it had gotten on the board first but Antonio Rudiger’s header tally on a first-half free kick was invalidated for offside.

Overall, the Germans did not seem to be up to snuff, creating danger only intermittently, but they did step up the pace after finding themselves behind, and ultimately it was striker Fullkrug – sent in to replace Thomas Muller in the 70th minute – who put one away high into the net to beat Unai Simon after Jamal Musiala knocked the ball down within the penalty box and the sub fired it home.

Had Germany lost, it would have been their first opening pair of losses since 1958, having fallen to Japan 2-1 in their debut match.

Germany has won the World Cup four times, but were eliminated in the group stage at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. They will next go up against Costa Rica, who defeated Japan 1-0 earlier on Sunday, but they also need Spain to win or draw against Japan to be able to advance.

Spain, meanwhile, won the 2010 World Cup, defeating South Africa in the final.

– Lineups:

Spain: Unai Simon; Carvajal, Rodrigo, Laporte, Jordi Alba (Balde, m.82); Busquets, Pedri, Gavi (Koke, m.66); Ferran Torres (Morata, m.54), Marco Asensio (Nico Williams, 66), Dani Olmo.

Germany: Neuer; Sule, Rudiger, Kehrer (Klostermann, m.70), Raum (Scholotterbeck, m.87); Kimmich, Goretzka, Gundogan (Sane, m.70); Musiala, Muller (Fullkrug, m.70) and Gnabry (Hofmann, m.85).

EFE rmm/bp

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