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Europe: UEFA Nations League
1 - 1
(0 - 0)
J. Hofmann (50)
H. Kane (88)

Germany pegged back by England in absorbing Munich clash

By James Westmacott

Germany had to settle for a 1-1 draw against England after Harry Kane scored a late equaliser from the penalty spot.
Hansi Flick.
Hansi Flick.
For the first time since 2019, Germany were back playing at home in front of a full house, and no better team was there to play than England. Having been dumped out of the Euros by the tourists last summer at Wembley, this was a marvellous opportunity for Germany to strike back. Though, England were looking to record back-to-back wins against Germany for the first time since the 1966 World Cup final.

The prodigiously historic affair started in an open, frantic manner, with England having intensely pressed their German opponents right from the very first whistle. Though, it was Germany who were in fact able to play through it and fashion the game’s first chance, with Chelsea’s Kai Havertz firing a relatively tame shot directly at England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. Moments later, following a Germany corner, the hosts possessed a glorious opportunity once more, this time with Real Madrid-bound Antonio Rüdiger peeling away from his marker on a corner, only for Kyle Walker to impressively skittle the ball away from the bottom corner of the goal, preventing his side from trailing early on.

Yet, Germany, wearing the DFB Frauen home shirt in an attempt to put the spotlight on women’s football ahead of this summer’s Euros, did not have it all their own way. This time it was the visitors’ turn to muster up an opportunity of their own. Harry Kane, neatly sorted out his feet with the ball on the edge of the box, only to fire straight into the hands of the ever-present Manuel Neuer. Both sides were creating relatively decent chances, in what was an incredibly high-tempo affair. Supreme youngster Jamal Musiala was lighting up the Allianz Arena, elucidating exactly why he’s one of football’s hottest prospects. His silky, elegant style saw the crowd clamour every time he took to the ball, gliding past England defenders with ease.

One of the major events of the first half though was an untimely injury for England’s Kalvin Phillips, clashing knees with Nico Schlotterbeck after an accidental coming-together. Whilst the Leeds United man sought to continue, he once again crashed down to the ground just minutes later, confirming that his night was unfortunately going to be a brief one. Yet, just as Phillips went to ground, Germany took a quick throw-in, putting Thomas Müller in on goal with only Pickford to beat. However, just before he lobbed Pickford exquisitely, the referee blew the whistle, much to the frustration of the German players. The evening was tinged with sadness for Phillips, who has certainly not enjoyed much luck this campaign. Having been so utterly ravaged by injuries, Phillips missed much of Leeds’ disappointing season, with his story in an international shirt lamentably not too dissimilar. Dortmund favourite Jude Bellingham replaced him, with much of the home crowd more than knowledgeable about what the remarkable 18-year-old is capable of. Bellingham was now on the pitch with Jamal Musiala, with the two of them having played in the exact same England team at U15 and U17 level, though of course, are now rivals at the highest level, both for club and country.

Germany had the ball in the net once again in the 23rd minute. This time, Hofmann was clean through on goal after Schlotterbeck’s long overhead ball. Though the goal was disallowed, for Hofmann was in an offside position, despite his extremely cool finish past Pickford in the England goal. Though, it perhaps should have been England who took the lead, with the ball nicely falling to talisman Harry Kane after a rare Neuer spill from a corner, though the England captain, in a seldom unfruitful manner, blasted the ball over the bar. Saka had Neuer worried right on the stroke of half-time, almost curling one sublimely into the far-left corner, though it remained 0-0 until the break.

Germany started the second half well, with Musiala and Havertz combining nicely, with the former almost playing the latter directly in on goal. But it was after 50 minutes that the deadlock was finally broken. Joshua Kimmich found himself in acres of space in the midfield after some majestic one-touch football, not too far from the box, before slotting the ball beautifully through to the unmarked Jonas Hofmann, who was able to aptly finish past Pickford – a move illustrating Germany’s immense precision under Flick. Germany’s midfield dominance was beginning to bestow, and the 1-0 lead was probably deserved. Though Manuel Neuer was persistently kept busy, this time effectively halting Mason Mount’s outside-of-the-box strike.

Germany now looked in complete control of the game, with Kimmich highlighting his truly world-class midfield ability. A player like Kimmich, an outstandingly beguiling player in the deep-lying playmaking role, is a player England have lacked for years, and unfortunately for the visitors, that was evident tonight. Werner and Gnabry came on to replace goal scorer Hofmann, and young prodigy Musiala in the game’s first set of substitutions, with Gnabry’s first touch of the game almost playing Gündoğan in, though Walker once again recovered. Germany continued to create chances, often forcing impressive saves from Pickford, although couldn’t ever again apply the finishing touches. Though, it was the hosts who dictated the rhythm and tempo of the game for the remainder, with Germany’s tactical set-up, masterminded by Hansi Flick, undoubtedly having given Germany the upper hand in the game.

Though with 15 minutes to go, the tables turned. It looked like Kane was imminently going to equalise, getting on the end of Grealish’s tantalising cross, only to be duly stopped once more by the impounding Manuel Neuer. England appeared to drastically improve following the introduction of Grealish, constantly on the front foot, providing an incessant threat to the German backline. But the game certainly did not peter out. With just five minutes of normal time to go, England were awarded a penalty, after Harry Kane was tripped in the box by Nico Schlotterbeck. Kane finished wonderfully from 12 yards, sending Neuer the wrong way. England were level thanks to the Tottenham striker’s 50th international goal. All of a sudden, it was England looking the stronger team, pushing for an unexpected winner. But it didn’t come.

Flick’s unbeaten run as Germany manager continues, but not in the way he’d have liked. Despite Germany dominating the game, England hung on in an utterly absorbing affair, and perhaps that is now their greatest strength - not completely flaking even when they’re under the cosh. The current edition of the Nations League appears to be running relatively smoothly for Die Mannschaft, with back-to-back draws against the two Euro 2020 finalists not at all discouraging. Notwithstanding the result, it was an impressively cultured display by Germany, facilitated by a genuinely world-class coach. Germany will certainly be happier with the performance, but it will be England heading home happier with the result.

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