Timo Werner scored a fine goal for Germany tonight (Thursday) but a very late Spain equaliser denied him and Toni Rudiger a UEFA Nations League victory in the city where both made their name.
Werner netted in Stuttgart with a high-quality finish early in the second half, while Rudiger was a solid presence on the left-hand side of the Germany back three, regularly thwarting a dangerous Spain attack that included Premier League new boys Rodrigo and Ferran Torres. Rudiger and his team-mates were only denied a clean sheet in the sixth minute of stoppage time, Valencia’s Jose Gaya converting from close range with a player off the pitch keeping him onside.
It was our own new signing Werner who spearheaded the home side’s front line and delivered the opening blow in the 51st minute. Germany’s no.9 collected a pass from Robin Gosens 15 yards from goal, shifted the ball out of his feet and away from the attentions of a couple of red-shirted defenders, before firing an accurate shot into the bottom left-hand corner, well beyond the reach of David de Gea. His 12th international goal was a finish of exceptional individual quality.
Werner had a chance to double his and Germany’s tally shortly afterwards, but shot into the side-netting from a tight angle after Leroy Sane had slightly overhit his squared pass on the break.
Both De Gea and Germany’s keeper Kevin Trapp made decent saves at either end, and it was Rudiger who came closest to scoring a second goal for Germany, heading over from a corner Werner’s tireless running had won. Our new striker was replaced in the first minute of four added on, making Spain’s equaliser in the 96th minute even more painful.
Rudiger played the full game, while Kepa Arrizabalaga was an unused sub for Spain.
Having not won a game in the inaugural Nations League, and without any of their Bayern Munich players, this had looked like being a super result for Joachim Low’s side, but they will now be aiming to pick up their maiden victory in the competition when they play Switzerland away on Sunday.
In Helsinki, Wales won 1-0 against Finland with Ethan Ampadu playing the whole match at centre-back.
Their goal arrived from Cardiff striker Kieffer Moore with 10 minutes left, and was the only effort on target of the game contested between two countries who will be at Euro 2021.
Ampadu was an impressive presence in the heart of the Welsh defence, recording a game-high 97 per cent pass success rate. He also won all three tackles he went in for, helping stifle Finland’s main man Teemu Pukki.
Wales host Bulgaria on Sunday.