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Thursday, June 24, 2021

UEFA Nations League: Germany held by Switzerland, Ukraine beat Spain for first time

In Group 4, Ukraine stunned Spain with a 1-0 win, leaving the Spanish on seven points after four games, one ahead of Germany and Ukraine, with Switzerland bottom of the group after two draws.

By: AP |
Updated: October 14, 2020 11:36:16 am
UEFA Nations League, Germany vs SwitzerlandGermany's Leon Goretzka, left, and Switzerland's Granit Xhaka challenge for the ball during the UEFA Nations League soccer match between Germany and Switzerland in Cologne, Germany, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Germany fought back to draw 3-3 with Switzerland in another error-strewn performance in the Nations League. Mario Gavranovic scored twice for the visitors, who led 2-1 at halftime after capitalizing on sloppy defending and wayward passes from the Germans on Tuesday.

The mistakes will do little to quell criticism from former Germany players including Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lothar Matthaus, who had been calling coach Joachim Low’s tactics into question after a 2-1 win over Ukraine on Saturday and 3-3 draw with Turkey in a friendly the previous Wednesday.

The game was played without fans due to rising coronavirus infections in the area.

Also in Group 4, Ukraine stunned Spain with a 1-0 win in Kyiv, leaving the Spanish on seven points after four games, one ahead of Germany and Ukraine, with Switzerland bottom of the group after two draws.

Germany captain Manuel Neuer denied former Bayern Munich teammate Xherdan Shaqiri with the first big chance in the fifth minute, but Gavranovic scored from the resultant corner after the home side failed to properly clear.

Remo Freuler, who had sent the ball back in for Gavranovic, chipped Neuer for the visitors’ second goal in the 26th after Gavranovic and Haris Seferovic combined to set him up following a wayward pass from Toni Kroos. It was an uncharacteristic mistake from the Real Madrid player, who was making his 100th appearance for Germany.

Kai Havertz set up Chelsea teammate Timo Werner for Germany’s response three minutes later, and the home side kept pushing for more.

Kroos went close before the break and Havertz struck the post after it, before the 21-year-old finally drew Germany level in the 55th after intercepting a weak pass from Fabian Schar.

But Gavranovic grabbed his second goal two minutes later, blasting in the rebound after Neuer twice saved from Seferovic. Serge Gnabry equalized with his heel on the hour-mark thanks to a low cross from Werner.

Germany substitute Julian Draxler might have created a late winner with some good work to reach the end line, but he managed to miss his teammates when he cut the ball back.

Schar was sent off in injury time with his second yellow card for obstructing Draxler. The resultant free kick failed to yield a winner.

With fans in stands, Ukraine beat Spain for 1st time

Viktor Tsygankov scored shortly after coming off the bench in the second half and Ukraine defeated Spain 1-0 in the Nations League for its first-ever victory over La Roja.

The nearly 15,000 fans who were allowed entry to the Kyiv Olympic Stadium celebrated loudly as Tsygankov struck the net from outside the area after a through-ball by captain Andriy Yarmolenko completing a counterattack in the 76th minute on Tuesday.

It was Ukraine’s first goal against Spain in 17 years. Tsygankov had entered the match about 10 minutes earlier.

The Spaniards had most of the significant scoring opportunities throughout the match but the hosts capitalized on their late chance to earn the victory.

Despite the loss, Spain with its 7 points remains in first place in Group 4 after second-place Germany was held by last-place Switzerland to a 3-3 draw in the other group match on Tuesday.

Ukraine, which has been depleted because of coronavirus cases in its squad, was in third place with the same six points as Germany. Switzerland has two points from four matches.

Spain was looking for its third straight Nations League win after opening with a draw against Germany. It had beaten Ukraine 4-0 and Switzerland 1-0.

It was the first time that young sensations Ansu Fati and Adama Traor touted as the future of Spain’s national team were together in the starting lineup. They helped Spain pressure from the start but neither could hit the target in front of the net.

In November, Spain visits Switzerland and then hosts Germany. Ukraine visits Germany and Switzerland.

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