Germany 2 Saudi Arabia 1: World Cup holders end worst winless streak in 30 years
By George Bond8th June 2018, 8:43 pmUpdated: 8th June 2018, 8:46 pm
GERMANY ended their worst winless streak for 30 years as they edged past a spirited Saudi Arabia 2-1 in Leverkusen.
Facing decidely weaker opposition than those they failed to beat in their recent five-game winless run, Joachim Low's side were comfortable at the break as Timo Werner and an Omar Hawsawi own goal put them two up.
The Saudis, who face hosts Russia in the World Cup's opening game on Thursday, grew into the game after a nervy opening.
But it was not until the final stages of the game that they halved the deficit, when Taisir Al-Jassim tucked in a rebound after Mohammad Al-Sahlawi's penalty was saved by half-time substitute Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
Germany went without Arsenal's Mesut Ozil, who missed the game with a knee injury that could threaten his participation in the opening stages of the World Cup.
After a run in which they drew with England, France and Spain before losing to Brazil and Austria, the win is a much-needed relief for Germany, who begin the defence of their 2014 title against Mexico in Moscow on June 17.
With less than eight minutes on the clock, a probing long ball from Joshua Kimmich found Marco Reus in behind and the Borussia Dortmund man laid the ball on a plate for Werner, who thundered in off the bar from six yards.
Their opponents still reeling from the Germans' fast start, Reus then struck the post with goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayoof stranded.
Werner had the ball in the back of the net again on 25 minutes but the flag had already gone up for offside against Thomas Mueller, before Sami Khedira's volley was palmed onto the woodwork by Al-Mayoof.
Hawsawi's own goal doubled the advantage on the stroke of half-time, deflecting the ball into the net as he lunged to prevent Mueller from getting to Werner's low cross.
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On the hour Al-Mayoof denied subsitute Ilkay Gundogan with a sensational close-range double save, moments after the Manchester City man was booed onto the pitch for his recent comments about his affiliation to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Draxler and Mueller t hen took it in turns to be denied by the Saudi keeper, the undoubted man of the match in only his 11th international.
Al-Jassim won a penalty for his side on 83 minutes, going down under what appeared minimal contact from Khedira.
And after Al-Sahlawi's weak effort was saved by Manuel Neuer's replacement Ter Stegen, Al-Jassim was on hand to crash home the rebound.
Al-Sahlawi then had a strong appeal for another penalty turned down in the 92nd minute, going down under the challenge of Mats Hummels after Al-Jassim inexplicably squared when six yards from goal.
But the referee waved away his appeals and Germany held on for a first win since October.
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