Germany and Spain play out draw, wins for Ukraine and Russia

By Derek Wilson, dpa

Germany and Spain could not be separated as they drew 1-1 in the Nations League when international football resumed in Europe after the coronavirus break on Thursday while Ukraine beat Switzerland 2-1.

Timo Werner’s goal seemed to have Germany heading for victory behind closed doors in Stuttgart but Jose Gaya levelled deep into injury-time in Group A4.

Ukraine top that group thanks to Oleksandr Zinchenko’s winner against Switzerland while in in B3 Artem Dzyuba’s double lifted Russia to a 3-1 win at home to Serbia. Hungary won 1-0 away to Turkey in the other game.

B4 is led by Wales who won 1-0 at Finland while Bulgaria drew 1-1 with Ireland. In C3 Moldova drew 1-1 with Kosovo and Slovenia drew 0-0 with Greece while in D1 the Faroe Islands edged Malta 3-2 after 10-man Latvia missed a penalty in a goalless draw with Andorra.

March friendlies were cancelled, as were play-offs to Euro 2020 which was then delayed by European governing body UEFA by a year to 2021 as the pandemic took hold.

Club football resumed across the continent at various points from May onwards and internationals now follow suit in accordance with strict hygiene protocols. UEFA also ruled all matches this international window must be played behind closed doors.

Germany looked to have secured three points on their return to action thanks to Werner moving his feet quickly and finishing smartly in the 51st minute.

But Gaya nudged home from close-range some six minutes into injury-time when Rodrigo headed a cross back across the goal.

“That’s very annoying,” Werner told broadcaster ZDF. “We have put a lot in and created a lot of chances.”

Spain captain Sergio Ramos said: “It would have been an injustice if Germany had won.

“Things were getting desperate but we kept our faith, maintained our shape and got what we merited.”

Ukraine triumphed thanks to Manchester City’s Zinchenko sending a brilliant chip into the far corner from outside the box midway through the second half.

Haris Seferovic had equalized Ukraine’s Andriy Yarmolenko’s opener as the Swiss try to repeat their finals appearance of the first edition.

“The most important thing is that we got three points,” said Ukraine’s Ruslan Malinovskyi. “It’s a good start for us in the group and now we’ll prepare in good spirit for the next game.”

Dzyuba struck first and last for Russia who also had Vyacheslav Karavaev on the scoresheet while Aleksandar Mitrovic briefly cut the deficit for Serbia.

Hungary won the other game in that group thanks to Dominik Szoboszlai’s rocket free-kick going in off the post 10 minutes from time in Turkey.

The other second-tier group is led by Wales who won a tight game 1-0 at Finland thanks to Kieffer Moore’s late strike. Gareth Bale, out of sorts at Real Madrid, played 45 minutes for the visitors.

Ireland also had a late escape as Shane Duffy levelled in the last minute in Bulgaria, who had led through Bozhidar Kraev, to ensure manager Stephen Kenny did not lose on his debut.

“It was important we didn’t lose the game, and that’s positive, and the attitude of the lads, we kept going til the end,” said Duffy. “Early days under the new manager, it’ll take a little bit of time, but we’ll keep trying.”

The six group stage games of the Nations League take place September-November with the finals held in early June 2021, shortly before the rescheduled European Championships.

Holders Portugal begin their campaign at home to Croatia on Saturday with Cristiano Ronaldo seeking a 100th international goal.

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