Thu, Nov 20, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Toni Kroos strikes late to sink Spain

LOCAL HERO:The biggest cheer of a damp and rain-swept night came when it was announced that RC Celta de Vigo striker Nolito would start the match for the hosts

AFP, VIGO, Spain

Spain’s Marc Bartra, left, vies for the ball with Germany’s Toni Kroos in their international friendly match at the Balaidos in Vigo, Spain, on Tuesday.

Photo: Reuters

Germany edged the big match between the last two World Cup winners on Tuesday as Toni Kroos’ last-gasp goal handed them a 1-0 friendly victory over Spain in rain-lashed Vigo.

The goal came in the 90th minute of a game between two experimental sides when Spain’s substitute goalkeeper Kiko Casilla was guilty of a howler, fumbling Kroos’ innocuous looking shot from the edge of the penalty area.

Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas had started for Spain in his 160th international appearance, but made way for his near namesake Casilla with 20 minutes to go.

“It was just what we’d been hoping for. It’s been a big year and this was a fine way to close it,” Kroos said after the game.

Spain’s best chance had come 10 minutes earlier as Barcelona’s Pedro tried to chip Germany goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler of Hannover 96, who produced a fine stop on what was actually a quiet night for him.

Germany have been suffering something of a World Cup hangover with a run of poor form that saw them lose in Poland in a Euro 2016 qualifier. While Spain have also been far from their own rampant form that saw them win Euro 2008 and Euro 2012, as well as the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and neither are leading their Euro 2016 qualifying group.

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque remained upbeat, despite the narrow defeat.

“We had as many chances as they did and all in all it was a close game. We’re in a transition period and we can continue to look to the future with optimism,” Del Bosque said.

Germany coach Joachim Loew said he was looking forward to seeing both teams in action in the near future.

“It was a difficult match on a very wet pitch, but I felt we controlled it well,” Loew said. “These two teams have marked the recent history of football and I’m convinced we’ll both play a decisive role at Euro 2016. Spain and Germany have a host of good players with which to assure the future.”

Only four of the players that started this summer’s World Cup final for Germany — Benedikt Hoewedes, Kroos, Thomas Mueller and Mario Goetze — started the game and it was a similar case for Spain.

Bayern Munich striker Mueller, who had scored 10 times this year for the national team, limped out of the game on 27 minutes after a clash with Sergio Ramos, to be replaced by Karim Bellarabi.

The heavy rain dampened what might have been expected to be a party atmosphere given the profile of the teams, but the biggest cheer of the night came with the news striker Nolito of local outfit RC Celta de Vigo would start the game.

Nolito sent a free-kick wide late in the first half and was also in a position to score from another chance when ruled off-side on his international debut.

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