Sports Desk, Sep 3 (efe-epa).- Spain needed a goal deep in stoppage time Thursday to salvage a 1-1 draw against Germany in the 2020-2021 UEFA Nations League opener for both teams
The contest at Stuttgart’s Mercedes-Benz Arena was La Roja’s first outing since the return of Luis Enrique as coach.
The former Barcelona skipper first took charge of the national side in July 2018, but took a leave of absence to spend time with his cancer-stricken 9-year-old daughter, who died in August 2019.
Enrique’s roster featured four players making their debut for Spain: Ferran Torres, Ansu Fati, Mikel Merino and Óscar Rodríguez. Torres started and the other three came in over the course of the night as subs.
But the crucial player for Spain in the first half was veteran goalkeeper David De Gea, who denied Thilo Kehrer and Julian Draxler before leaping to stop a blast from Leroy Sané.
La Roja’s best opportunity of the opening period came in the 14th minute, when German keeper Kevin Trapp made an ill-judged foray off his line that left Rodrigo Moreno with a clear shot.
The Spanish striker, however, took too long to set himself and Trapp was able to recover and defuse the threat.
The German net-minder did much better to turn aside a Sergio Busquets volley and save Rodrigo’s ground shot just before the break.
Spain started the second half with Fati in place of Jesus Navas alongside Ferran and Fabian Ruiz, yet before the change could bear fruit, Timo Werner put Germany ahead 1-0 in the 51st minute.
Ilkay Gündogan sent the ball deep to Robin Gosens and he relayed to Werner, who evaded two Spain defenders before beating De Gea with a low blast.
De Gea was tested when Fabian deflected a cross from Toni Kroos toward the goal. At the other end of the pitch, Thiago Alcantara came oh-so-close to equalizing.
Werner squandered a chance to seal the win and Spain pulled level in the 92nd minute on a header by Fati. But the goal was disallowed for a Sergio Ramos foul against Matthias Ginter.
In the sixth minute of what was supposed to be four minutes of stoppage time, Jose Luis Gaya bested Trapp from close range to secure the draw for Spain.
The outcome left Germany and Spain tied for second place in League A Group 4 with a point apiece, while Ukraine lead thanks to a 2-1 victory over Switzerland.
While the visitors enjoyed a substantial edge in possession at Lviv Arena, the hosts were much better in front of goal and that proved to be the difference.
Only the post stopped Ruslan Malinovskyi from putting Ukraine ahead in the 10th minute with a magnificent strike from distance.
Four minutes later, a pinpoint deep pass found Oleksandr Tymchyk alone in front of Swiss keeper Yann Sommer, who turned the shot aside but could not control the rebound.
The ball rolled back to Tymchyk and he got it to Andriy Yarmolenko, who made it 1-0 for the home side.
Haris Seferovic brought Switzerland back on level terms in the 41st minute with a tremendous shot from 25 yards that blew past 36-year-old keeper Andriy Pyatov into the bottom corner.
The Swiss deployed the high press after the break and had a chance to take the lead on a Ruben Vargas header that hit the post.