By AP and published by ABC News and US News & World Report
Al Khor, Qatar – Only a win for Germany in the final group game will give the four-time World Cup champions a chance to avoid a second straight early elimination.
At least they’re improving.
Substitute Niclas Füllkrug scored in the 83rd minute on Sunday to give Germany a 1-1 draw against Spain at Al Bayt Stadium in one of the most anticipated matches of this year’s World Cup. A loss would not have eliminated Germany, but it would have left the team in a much more difficult position.
Germany’s fate will be decided on Thursday against Costa Rica, which defeated Japan 1-0 earlier Sunday. Even a win may not be enough for the Germans, who lost to Japan in their opener and are in last place in Group E. They need the other result to go their way.
If both Germany and Spain win, both will advance. If there is a draw in the Japan-Spain match, Germany will need to overcome a goal-difference deficit against the Japanese. If Japan is victorious, then the Germans will have to top Spain — which beat Costa Rica 7-0 — on goal difference to get through.
Álvaro Morata put Spain in the lead in the 62nd minute with a nice one-touch from close range after a well-placed low cross from Jordi Alba.
Germany only threatened sporadically with a few breakaways and set pieces, but Füllkrug finally found the equaliser with a shot from close range into the top of the net.
“They are Germany, a great team,” Morata said. “They had an opportunity and they took advantage of it.”
Füllkrug’s goal kept Germany from enduring consecutive losses at the start of a World Cup for the first time. The Germans won the 2014 World Cup but since then have won only one of its five World Cup matches. At the 2018 tournament in Russia, the team lost two of its matches and went home early.
Spain hasn’t lost to Germany in an official competition since the 1988 European Championship. The Germans lost to Spain 6-0 the last time they met, in the Nations League two years ago. Germany’s last win against “La Roja” came in a friendly eight years ago.
It was the fifth meeting between the powerhouses at World Cups, with Spain winning the most recent one 1-0 in the semifinals of the 2010 tournament in South Africa.
Spain won its lone World Cup in 2010 and was eliminated in the round of 16 in 2018.
Germany captain Manuel Neuer made his 18th World Cup appearance to pull even with Germany’s Sepp Maier and Brazil’s Claudio Taffarel for the most appearances by a goalkeeper at the tournament.
The Germany players did not cover their mouths to protest Fifa’s clampdown on the “One Love” armbands on Sunday. They made the gesture before the team’s opener against Japan.
Spain’s next match is against Japan at Khalifa International Stadium, while Germany returns to Al Bayt Stadium to face Costa Rica. Both matches will be played Thursday at the same time.
Croatia Downs Canada 4-1 at World Cup on Kramaric’s 2 Goals
Canada coach John Herdman had tried to boost his team following a loss to Belgium to open the team’s first World Cup appearance in 36 years — using colourful language that Croatia took exception to.
The 2018 runners-up responded on Sunday with a 4-1 victory over the Canadians, who were eliminated after two matches in Qatar.
“I have to say thank you to the head coach of Canada for the motivation,” said Andrej Kramaric, who scored two goals on Sunday.
Alphonso Davies scored Canada’s first-ever men’s World Cup goal a minute into the match but Marko Livaja and Lovro Majer also scored for Croatia, which lost to France in the final four years ago in Russia and opened with a scoreless draw against Morocco.
Luka Modric, the 37-year-old captain who runs the midfield for Croatia, is still looking for his first goal of the tournament in what is likely his final World Cup.
Canada opened the tournament with a 1-0 loss to Belgium. Afterward, Herdman stirred a bit of controversy when he recounted his post-game message to his players, using the first letter of a profanity to describe how they would beat their next opponents.
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic responded the day before the match and he was still salty about it on Sunday. He took a dig at Herdman, a 47-year old Englishman who coached Canada’s team at the 2015 Women’s World Cup, after the match.
“He is a high quality professional, but it will take time for him to learn some things,” Dalic said.
Croatia and Morocco, which caused another upset at this year’s tournament by beating Belgium 2-0 earlier Sunday, both have four points in Group F. Belgium has three points and still has a chance to advance
“Croatia once again demonstrated power, strength and quality, and no one was happier about that than me,” Dalic said.
Canada earned no points from its first two matches and can’t advance even if it beats Morocco on Thursday in its final match. Croatia and Belgium will play at the same time.
Davies, who plays for Bayern Munich, headed a cross from Tajon Buchanan just out of goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic’s reach 1 minute, 8 seconds into the match. The goal had the swath of red-shirted Canadian fans chanting “Can-a-da! Can-a-da!” at Khalifa International Stadium.
“I am disappointed in the result. It was not easy,” said Davies, who had a penalty saved in the opening loss to Belgium. “We did our best, we fought the entire game. We’re looking forward to the next game and hopefully we get some points.”
Kramaric appeared to score the equaliser for Croatia in the 26th minute but he was ruled offside. His second chance counted about 10 minutes later, making it 1-1.
Livaja put Croatia in front with a blast from outside the penalty box in the 44th minute, Kramaric added his second in the 70th and Majer scored in stoppage time.
“I had a great opportunity and it’s a great feeling to score two goals at a World Cup,” Kramaric said. “This is not an everyday event.”
Canada was also eliminated in the group stage of the team’s only other World Cup appearance in 1986.
Herdman, who said he has no regrets about his comments to fire up his team, turned his attention to motivate them for the final match in Qatar — and set the team in the right direction for 2026, when Canada co-hosts the World Cup with the United States and Mexico.
“I’m proud of what they achieved tonight, which was to make some history for our country,” Herdman said. “They’ll be disappointed tomorrow. They’ll be hurting but then we’ll look forward. We’ve got a big game coming up against Morocco, a huge game for Canada in the sense there’s a lot for us to play for.”
Top: Germany’s Niclas Fuellkrug celebrates after he scored his side’s first goal during the World Cup group E soccer match between Spain and Germany, at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor , Qatar, on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. Photo: AP Photo/Luca Bruno and published by US News & World Report
Insert: Croatia’s Andrej Kramaric celebrates after scoring his side’s opening goal during the World Cup group F soccer match between Croatia and Canada, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. Photo: AP/Aijaz Rahi and published by ABC News
Front Page: Spain players celebrate after Alvaro Morata scored the opening goal during the World Cup group E soccer match between Spain and Germany, at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. AP Photo/Matthias Schrader and published by ABC News