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FOOTBALL

Spain and Germany draw in tightly fought second World Cup match

Germany snatched a late equaliser against Spain to make it a 1-1 draw in a heavyweight World Cup clash on Sunday, leaving both sides' hopes of qualifying for the last 16 still in the balance.

Spain and Germany draw in tightly fought second World Cup match
Spain's defender #14 Alejandro Balde (L) and Spain's defender #20 Dani Carvajal and Germany's forward #19 Leroy Sane run for the ball during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group E football match between Spain and Germany at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, north of Doha on November 27, 2022. (Photo by Fran├žois-Xavier MARIT / AFP)

Alvaro Morata’s flicked finish had Spain on course to secure qualification from Group E, but the electric Jamal Musiala and Fuellkrug combined to foil La Roja and restore some German pride.

Costa Rica’s surprise win over Japan earlier eased some pressure on Germany after their shock loss to the Asian side, but they were unable to capitalise for large periods in a battle for the ball against Spain.

The four-time world champions suffered a humiliating group-stage exit in Russia four years ago, and Morata’s strike at Al Bayt Stadium had them on the ropes, but Werder Bremen striker Fuellkrug finished brilliantly to divide the points.

Spain lead Group E on four points, from Japan and Costa Rica on three each, while Germany have one, with a final round of matches to come.

The only World Cup group-stage clash to pit two former champions against each other lived up to its top billing in intensity and tactical intrigue, with both sides set on trying to dominate possession and press extremely high.

Germany coach Hansi Flick rejected suggestions his side had been distracted in their shock opening defeat by Japan because of their pre-game protest against FIFA “silencing teams” and the taut opening exchanges quickly ensured all focus was on the football.

Flick cut Kai Havertz from his line-up and deployed Thomas Mueller up front after their shocking opening-day capitulation, hoping for a quick reaction.

However, Spain almost took the lead in the seventh minute when Manuel Neuer palmed Dani Olmo’s powerful drive from range onto the woodwork.

It seemed like they were picking up where they left off after their 7-0 demolition of Costa Rica, but Germany steeled themselves, keeping Luis Enrique’s side at bay.

Spain’s players celebrate after Spain’s forward #07 Alvaro Morata scored their team’s first goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group E football match between Spain and Germany at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, north of Doha on November 27, 2022. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

Clinical Morata

Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon relied on his footwork under pressure as La Roja sought to dominate possession.

One mistake handed Serge Gnabry an opportunity, but he fired wide.

Neuer erred with the ball at his feet too, with Germany similarly looking to build from the back, but Ferran Torres could not capitalise.

Antonio Ruediger powered home a header from a free kick, but his celebration was cut short after VAR caught him half a step ahead of the Spanish defence, leaving the teams tied at the break.

Germany nearly struck after Joshua Kimmich won the ball back pressing extremely high, but Simon produced a fine save to deny him.

Just when Luis Enrique’s side seemed to have lost their grip on the game, they broke the deadlock.

Morata, on for Torres, finished clinically at the near post from an inviting low cross from Jordi Alba after 62 minutes.

It looked like it was enough for the 2010 champions, but Fuellkrug — on only his third international appearance — decided otherwise, sneaking in behind substitute Alejandro Balde and lashing past Simon with seven minutes remaining.

Leroy Sane, on as a substitute after injury, might have won it late on for Germany but was forced extremely wide as he rounded Simon and could not find a finish or produce a cutback.

Spain face Japan on Thursday, while Germany play Costa Rica, needing to win and hoping La Roja do not lose.

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FOOTBALL

Disgraced former Spanish football chief ‘forcefully kissed’ England star

Disgraced former Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales behaved inappropriately towards England players after the Women's World Cup final, according to Football Association chairwoman Debbie Hewitt.

Disgraced former Spanish football chief 'forcefully kissed' England star

World governing body FIFA in October imposed a three-year ban from all football activities on Rubiales over his conduct at the match, which included kissing Spanish player Jenni Hermoso without her consent.

European champions England lost the final in Sydney 1-0.

FIFA has now published its findings into the case, saying it had been tempted to impose a more severe sanction. The FIFA disciplinary committee said Rubiales had acted with “a sense of complete impunity” at the game on August 20.

“The committee could not stress enough that — regardless of the emotional state he was in during and after the match — (Rubiales’) behaviour was inexcusable and unacceptable, especially considering his high rank within the football ecosystem at the time,” it said.

Hewitt was asked to give evidence and the report includes a summary of her submission.

READ ALSO: Death of the Iberian macho: What the Rubiales kiss uproar says about Spain

According to the report, Hewitt said Rubiales “cupped and stroked” the face of England’s Laura Coombs and “seemingly forcefully kissed Lucy Bronze on her face” at the presentation ceremony.

Hewitt added she “felt deeply uncomfortable and embarrassed” at the way Rubiales greeted the Spanish players, which included tapping one on the bottom. According to the report, she also noted Rubiales kissing Hermoso “fully and forcibly on the mouth”.

In his response, Rubiales accused Hewitt of “blatantly” lying or “speaking from ignorance” in relation to the kiss. Rubiales, who resigned from his position in September after initially vowing not to stand down, indicated his intention to appeal against the ban on the day it was issued.

Five days after resigning as Spain’s football chief, Rubiales appeared before a judge investigating a complaint of sexual assault over the Hermoso incident.

Rubiales has repeatedly insisted the kiss was consensual.

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