Stuttgart, An equalizer six minutes into added time from Jose Gaya rescued a 1-1 Nations League draw for Spain and denied Germany a winning return from the coronavirus break in Stuttgart on Thursday.
Local boy Timo Werner struck to give Germany the lead early in the second half but Gaya tapped in from almost on the line to secure a share of the points, reported dpa.
The match ended a 289-day wait for Joachim Loew’s Germany to take to the field having last beaten Northern Ireland 6-1 on November 19, 2019.
Germany head to Switzerland in their second game in the top-flight Group A4 on Sunday while Spain host Ukraine, who edged the Swiss 2-1.
Loew rested several Bayern Munich players, including captain Manuel Neuer, after their Champions League win last month, and handed a starting spot to Robin Gosens of Atalanta.
The left-sided midfielder had a game to remember not least because of running out at an empty stadium in a match played with strict hygiene protocols due to the coronavirus.
He was solid throughout and his assist allowed Werner, born nearby and a former VfB Stuttgart player now with Chelsea via RB Leipzig, to slam home his 12th international goal.
“A very intensive evening,” said Gosens, who also expressed disappointment at the late equalizer.
Germany had made the more positive start with David de Gea saving from Thilo Kehrer’s header and then from Julian Draxler. He also acrobatically tipped away Leroy Sane’s shot as the new Bayern Munich signing returned to the international team after a cruciate ligament tear.
Sane and Niklas Suele, also back from injury, were the only Bayern players picked with Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka and Serge Gnabry joining Neuer in being given a break.
“Of course a bit of rhythm was missing in the game,” Sane told broadcaster ZDF.
Lukas Klostermann and Marcel Halstenberg – part of the Leipzig side that lost its Champions League semi-final – were also rested.
Spain coach Luis Enrique used Barcelona’s 17-year-old star Ansu Fati from the bench at half-time having given a starting debut to Manchester City’s winger Ferran Torres.
Fati thought he’d levelled in injury-time but his header was correctly disallowed for Sergio Ramos’ foul on Matthias Ginter.
And Spain did equalize when Torres’ cross was headed back across goal by Rodrgio and Gaya couldn’t miss from close range.
Loew said he was “naturally annoyed,” by conceding. “But I also have to say our boys have given everything and fought to the end.”
Spain midfielder Thiago said the draw “was deserved at the end, we made a lot of chances.”
Leeds United’s Rodrigo had spurned Spain’s best opportunity to break the deadlock when he pounced on Emre Can’s poor back-pass but he hesitated having gone past Kevin Trapp and the keeper could recover.
Trapp and was picked with Marc-Andre ter Stegen unable to deputize for Neuer due to injury. The third choice keeper impressed with another save from Rodrigo shortly before the break.
Sane’s pace almost created a second for Werner who shot into the side-netting on the hour mark. Matthias Ginter then replaced Sane as Loew shuffled his pack.
Germany tried to hold but could not end their longest wait between games since 1950 with victory.
Source: Bahrain News Agency