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Fantastic Fullkrug bails out Neuer and Germany! Winners, losers and ratings as Morata proves his worth for Spain again

01:46 GMT+4 28/11/2022
Morata Fullkrug Spain Germany GFX
It was a tale of two strikers as a 1-1 draw in Doha leaves Group E wide open heading into the final matchday

Germany's 2022 World Cup dreams are still alive, but only just, and only thanks to an unlikely hero. The four-time winners needed an 83rd-minute strike from substitute Niclas Fullkrug to rescue their first point of the tournament, and in the process leave Spain with work to do to secure their own place in the knockout stages.

Luis Enrique's side had led courtesy of their own substitute, Alvaro Morata, but the Germans are nothing if not resilient, and after Jamal Musiala and Joshua Kimmich had missed gilt-edged chances to level, the veteran Fullkrug, who has spent much of his career in the 2.Bundesliga, stepped up to lash home with time running out.

Germany may even have won it, with Leroy Sane wasting a good opening in stoppage time, but Hansi Flick's team know that they can secure a last-16 spot by beating Costa Rica in their final Group E fixture, providing Spain can beat Japan.

GOAL runs through the winners and losers from an intense, and as it turns out dramatic, clash...

  • Niclas Fullkrug Germany 2022

    WINNER: Niclas Fullkrug

    Germany would have taken a goal from anyone, but there was something fitting about the fact that it was Fullkrug who got them out of jail here.

    For a start, he's a striker, and that is a big issue with Hansi Flick's side at the moment. So after Kai Havertz toiled as the No.9 in the opening game against Japan, and Thomas Muller did likewise here, how refreshing to see a genuine centre-forward doing what genuine centre-forwards do.

    Fullkrug's finish was clinical, and keeps Germany very much in the hunt for the last 16. Credit to Flick, who saw things weren't working and changed it. Muller barely had a sniff of goal, but his replacement did, and he took his chance.

    As for Fullkrug himself, what a story. At 29, this was only his third international appearance. Much of his career has been spent in the second tier of German football, but his form for Werder Bremen this season, where he has scored 10 times, earned him his call-up, and here he seized his opportunity.

    His second goal for Germany may be the biggest he ever scores.

  • Marco Asensio Spain 2022

    LOSER: Marco Asensio

    If there was one player Spain wanted the chance to fall to, it was Asensio. The Real Madrid man has one of the sweetest left-foots in football, and so when Alvaro Morata, who had given his side the lead a couple of minutes earlier, dummied a pass right into his path, your money would have been on him at the very least hitting the target.

    He didn't. Instead, he wastefully swept his effort over the crossbar. Germany breathed a sigh of relief and Spain watched the chance to kill the game, and all-but-seal their place in the last 16 go begging.

    Credit must go to Germany, who came on strong and forced the equaliser. And in fairness to Asensio, maybe Leroy Sane will feel exactly the same, having failed to take a huge opportunity of his own in the dying stages.

  • Alvaro Morata Spain 2022

    WINNER: Alvaro Morata

    Say what you like about Morata, he rarely leaves us with nothing to talk about.

    The 30-year-old may not be the most polished or most reliable of centre-forwards, but if Spain are to have a successful tournament then one suspects he will have a big part to play.

    He definitely did here, emerging from the bench early in the second half and giving Luis Enrique's side a different dimension with his movement, particularly in behind the German defence.

    And helpfully, he took the first chance that came his way, getting across the near post superbly to guide Jordi Alba's astute pass beyond Manuel Neuer, who in truth didn't cover himself in glory.

    Morata may feel he should have had another late on when played through by Koke, but delayed his shot just long enough to allow Nico Schlotterbeck to make a fine recovery tackle.

    Overall, though, this was a positive cameo from the Atletico Madrid man, who now has 30 goals for his country. Whatever you think of his club career, that's a tally that commands respect in any era.

  • Manuel Neuer Germany 2022

    LOSER: Manuel Neuer

    For every winner there must be a loser, and while there was much to admire about the movement and finish from Morata for Spain's opener, questions will again be asked about Neuer's role in the goal.

    Against Japan in the Group E opener, the Germany skipper was culpable for the winner, beaten at his near post by Takuma Asano, and there were similarities here with Morata, although this time the angle was far less prohibitive.

    Both goals, though, look wrong on the replay, Neuer staying too low and watching as the ball whizzed past his shoulder. Credit to Morata, for sure, but you'd expect better from a goalkeeper who has been one of the best in the world for the last decade or more.

  • Costa Rica-Japan BMB

    WINNER: Group E

    It promises to be a dramatic evening on Thursday, as Group E reaches its conclusion.

    All four teams are in with a chance of qualification to the last 16. Japan, surely, will be kicking themselves after losing earlier on Sunday to a Costa Rica side that shipped seven against Spain.

    Costa Rica themselves know a win against Germany would give them an unlikely passage to the knockout stage, while Spain, who looked a million dollars in their opener, know there is still work to do against Japan if they are to get through.

    And then there's the Germans, still alive, still fighting, but needing a bit of help from elsewhere. They have to beat Costa Rica and hope Japan lose to Spain. A draw in the latter fixture brings goal difference into play.

    Whatever happens, it should be exciting.

  • Thomas Muller Germany 2022

    LOSER: Thomas Muller

    What's the most thankless task at this World Cup? The answer might well be 'starting up front for Germany'.

    Against Japan we saw Kai Havertz huff and puff and ultimately fail to even threaten to blow the house down. The Chelsea man was dropped as a result of his shot-shy performance, and it was no great surprise.

    Muller was the man given the nod as the German No.9 here, but the legendary Bayern Munich man fared no better. Like Havertz, he failed to register a single shot in the game, and in fact he didn't even manage a touch in the Spain penalty area.

    Some of that is down to the way Luis Enrique's side defended - Rodri, in particular, was excellent - but there was also a reluctance to gamble, to stretch the game by running in behind, or for midfielders to play probing passes.

    Only when Sane came on did Germany look capable of picking holes in the Spanish backline. Musiala and Kimmich had chances, before Fullkrug did what Havertz and Muller couldn't, registering three shots on his way to getting on the scoresheet.

    Could the unfashionable option be the right one against Costa Rica?