Nations League: Germany held for a draw by Switzerland as pressure mounts on Joachim Loew; Ukraine stuns Spain

Germany have drawn four of their last five games — surrendering the lead on three occasions— to leave them second in their Nations League group behind Spain.

Agence France-Presse October 14, 2020 08:44:43 IST
Nations League: Germany held for a draw by Switzerland as pressure mounts on Joachim Loew; Ukraine stuns Spain

Cologne: Joachim Loew's 14-year reign as Germany head coach is under pressure after his side's run of poor results continued Tuesday as they had to come from two goals down to limp to a 3-3 draw against Switzerland in the Nations League.

Germany have drawn four of their last five games — surrendering the lead on three occasions— to leave them second in their Nations League group behind Spain.

They squeezed past Ukraine 2-1 with a full strength side in Kiev on Saturday and after a 3-3 friendly home draw against Turkey last Wednesday, Loew's side were once again guilty of poor defending.

"Sure, when you concede three goals, the defence isn't good," admitted Toni Kroos, who was at fault for the second Swiss goal, after his 100th appearance for Germany.

The 60-year-old Loew has a German FA contract until the 2022 World Cup.

However, his popularity among German fans has plummeted, from the heights of winning the 2014 World Cup title, since Germany's debacle at Russia 2018 finals when they failed to get out of their group.

The draw with the Swiss will only enhance the domestic criticism of Loew from key names within German football such as Lothar Matthaeus and Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Dinamo Zagreb striker Mario Gavranovic scored goals either side of a deft chip by Remo Freuler as all three Swiss goals came from German mistakes.

Germany fought back behind closed doors with goals by Timo Werner, his Chelsea team-mate Kai Havertz and Serge Gnabry.

"We always came back, despite a lot of set backs, so we showed some good morale," said goal-scorer Havertz, putting a positive spin on a disappointing evening for the Germans.

On the eve of the game, Loew said he expected "concentration, precision, courage", but it was the Swiss who showed those character traits to take a 2-0 lead.

The German defence was caught napping with just five minutes gone.

Right back Robin Gosens lost the ball and Freuler headed across the box to Gavranovic who also used his head to guide the ball over German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

A weak clearance by Neuer then invited Gavranovic to claim his second, but the Swiss striker fired just wide.

The Swiss grabbed their second however when Toni Kroos, making his 100th appearance for Germany, surrendered possession.

Haris Seferovic flicked the ball across the box to Freuler, who had the time and space to chip Neuer on 26 minutes to leave Loew fuming on the sidelines.

Germany fought back with two 'Made in Chelsea' goals.

Kai Havertz won the ball and unleashed his Blues team-mate Timo Werner, who beat a posse of defenders before delicately placing his shot out of reach of Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer to make it 2-1 on 29 minutes.

Having hit the post immediately after half-time, Havertz equalised on 55 minutes when he snapped up a loose ball and fired across Sommer to tuck his shot inside the far post.

However, the Swiss claimed their third goal when Gavranovic slammed home a shot on 57 minutes after the German defence had again been pulled apart.

It meant Germany have conceded six goals in Cologne in the space of seven days.

The Germans came back again when Werner turned provider and threaded a pass to Gnabry, who deftly flicked the ball past Sommer with half an hour to go to equalise for the second time.

Spain go down to Ukraine

Substitute Viktor Tsygankov's strike gave Ukraine a surprise 1-0 win over goal-shy Spain in their Nations League clash in Kiev on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old Dynamo Kiev player had not long been thrown into the fray by coach Andriy Shevchenko when he latched onto Andriy Yarmolenko's superb through ball and fired past an exposed David de Gea in the 76th minute.

The goal came against the run of play with Spain applying most of the pressure at the Olympic Stadium, where coronavirus restrictions were eased enough to allow a limited number of fans to attend.

It was a shock result after Spain— who had not lost since November 2018— won 4-0 when the sides met in Madrid just last month, and Ukraine are now only a point behind Luis Enrique's team in League A, Group 4.

With two rounds of matches still to play in November, Spain top the group on seven points, a point above both Germany and Ukraine, with winless Switzerland bottom on just two points.

The Ukraine squad had been hit by a host of coronavirus cases before being trounced 7-1 by France in a friendly in Paris last week, and Andriy Shevchenko's side then lost 2-1 at home to Germany at the weekend.

They were fortunate not to fall behind on several occasions against Spain, with goalkeeper Georgiy Bushchan doing well to tip over a Rodrigo Moreno header early on.

Bushchan, of Dynamo Kiev, also tipped over a Sergio Ramos free-kick in the first half, while Manchester City midfielder Rodri hit the post in the 65th minute.

Luis Enrique sent on Ferran Torres along with Mikel Oyarzabal, the Real Sociedad forward who scored in the 1-0 win over Switzerland at the weekend, but Spain could not find a way through.

It was a disappointing return for them to the stadium where they beat Italy 4-0 in the final of Euro 2012, and Spain have managed just one goal in three outings this month.

Often criticised for his performances with Manchester United, De Gea will also face scrutiny for his positioning at the goal, and Spain's home meeting with Germany next month is shaping up to be decisive in deciding who advances to the four-team finals.

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