Substitute Niclas Fullkrug salvaged a vital point for Germany in a 1-1 draw with Spain to keep the four-time World Cup champion’s hopes of advancing from Group E alive at Qatar’s Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday night.
Spain, who hit seven past Costa Rica in their opening win, looked dangerous straight away, with Germany keeper Manuel Neuer called into immediate action to keep out Dani Olmo’s 7th minute thunderbolt after a slick team move by La Roja.
Serge Gnabry blazed a shot wide of Unai Simon’s far post on 25 minutes as Germany looked to turn around their World Cup fortunes after a shocking 2-1 loss to Japan to open group play on Thursday.
Spain continued to look the better of the two teams going forward but lacking an end product, while Germany had a Antonio Rudiger goal ruled out for offside after a VAR check as the first half ended goalless.
Simon was forced into his first save in the 56th minute when the 2010 champions got into trouble trying to play out of the back, permitting Kimmich to shoot from just inside the penalty area only for the Spain keeper to make an impressive save.
Luis Enrique brought Alvaro Morata off the bench early in the second half and the move paid quick dividends as the Atletico Madrid striker beat his marker to Jordi Alba’s near-cross and cleverly flicked it by Neuer to give Spain a deserved lead.
Germany, who hadn’t gone winless for three consecutive World Cup games in 60 years, fought hard and should have drawn level in the 73rd minute but Jamal Muisala’s shot with only the keeper to beat was saved by Simon to keep Spain in front.
With time running out on Hansi Flick’s side, Fullkrug had the ball fortuitously fall to him in the Spain penalty area and he made no doubt with the finish, blasting a beautiful strike past Simon to give Germany their first point of the tournament so far.
“We knew what was at stake. Spain played good football but the teams were level and we had a huge chance in the end to win it but these things happen,” Flick told reporters.
“Things come to you when you start winning. Maybe it is the spark we need.”
The result keeps Spain atop the group on four points and Germany in last with just one, but Flick’s side can advance from a mix of scenarios with the most ideal being a victory over Costa Rica and a win by La Roja versus Japan on Thursday.
“There was a strange feeling in the changing room because we had the opportunity to beat Germany and we let it slip through our hands and that was a shame,” Luis Enrique told a news conference.
“But we have to think that we are at the top of the so-called ‘Group of Death’ and we have to stay positive.
“A draw against Japan on Thursday would probably send us through to knockouts, but we will not speculate. We will use our full strength and go for the win to secure the top in the group standings.”