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C. Pulisic (27)
İ. Gündoğan (39), N. Füllkrug (58), J. Musiala (61)

Nagelsmann's Germany off to winning start with victory over USMNT

By Peter Weis   @PeterVicey

Julian Nagelsmann's debut as Germany's new Bundestrainer got off to a successful start on Tuesday evening in an American hosted exhibition fixture.

After falling behind 0-1 following a dream strike from former Dortmund star Christian Pulisic, Nagelsmann's DFB-XI produced three unanswered goals of their own to top the USMNT 3-1. 
Julian Nagelsmann.
Julian Nagelsmann.Photo: GEPA Pictures/Sven Sonntag
Julian Nagelsmann's tenure as Germany's newly-appointed Bundestrainer is off to a successful start after his German Nationalmannschaft defeated Gregg Berhalter's United States men's national team 3-1 on Saturday afternoon at the Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in Hartford, Connecticut. The new-look German side withstood a spirited first half performance in which a USMNT captain Christian Pulisic caused them all sorts of problems and even scored a dream goal.

Nagelsmann's debut XI featured five changes from the side that bested France 2-1 under the interim stewardship of Rudi Völler in September. Jamal Musiala and Niclas Füllkrug took the place of Serge Grabby and Thomas Müller. Pascal Groß (with Joshua Kimmich unavailable due to illness) took the place of Emré Can (left behind with his club this time) in midfield. Robin Gosens slotted in for Benjamin Henrichs at left-back. The recalled Mats Hummels immediately took back the starting central defender role vacated by Niklas Süle.

As was widely expected, Nagelsmann's team lined up in a 4-2-2-2 formation. The in-form Leroy Sané paired alongside Füllkrug up top. Young phenoms Florian Wirtz - also as expected - shared the buttressing support axis. Groß, unsurprisingly, served as the more defensive-minded half of the midfield partnership with Ilkay Gündogan. Just as he did under Völler, Leverkusen's Jonathan Tah worked as a makeshift right back. Despite the involvement of Wirtz and Musiala, Nagelsmann's debut XI was the oldest (28.97 years) of any debuting Bundestrainer.

A generally up-tempo opening ten minutes saw the Americans enjoy the better chances. Former Dortmund star Pulisic emerged as the main target of Berhalter's USMNT. The current AC Milan professional did locate the back of the net early on a goal disallowed for offside. At the other end, Groß struck the post in the 11th on the first chance for the DFB team. Neither side managed much of note until a controversial play involving American captain Pulisic and German keeper Marc André ter Stegen in the 26th.

Ter Steven took Pulisic out with a knee knock in the penalty area, but match official Fernando Guerrero didn't care for the manner in which Pulisic embellished his fall and ruled it a dive. Pulisic - by far the most influential player in Berhalter's squad on the night - would nevertheless not be denied. The former Chelsea attacker opened the scoring some two minutes later with a beautifully curled effort from just outside the 18 into the top left corner. Ter Stegen stood no chance against Pulisic's 28th minute laser. Most impressively, Berhalter's skipper also initiated the attacking sequence himself.

Germany were able to equalize shortly before the half when Gündogan sent Sané forward into the box. American keeper Matt Turner halted Sané's run, but Gündogan followed up to hammer home a free ball after Sané was dispossessed in the 39th. The game thus went into the locker room tied 1-1 after the respective captains of the two sides traded goals. Nagelsmann opted to stick with his initial XI for the second half, though the constellation pressed much higher after the restart.

The high press paid off almost immediately, with Füllkrug testing keeper Turner in the 49th. On what was his fourth effort on target for the night, Füllkrug finally found the back of the net in the 58th. The DFB-team played some very nice combos in the lead up to the 2-1, with Musiala and Gosens involved in at the end of the string that enabled Germany to take the lead. Another goal fell for the Germans just after the hour-mark, this time with Füllkrug setting up Musiala nicely on the 3-1 in the 61st.

Both coaches began to steadily introduce substitutes after the third German goal. Musiala and the subbed on Süle sent efforts wide in the remaining minutes. From the hosts, there was nothing much more to see as the match crawled to a quiet finish.

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