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Germany keep their World Cup hopes alive thanks to surprise hero Niclas Fullkrug

Ryan Sidle

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Germany keep their World Cup hopes alive thanks to surprise hero Niclas Fullkrug

Niclas Fullkrug scored a brilliant late finish, to earn Germany a World Cup reprieve vs Spain, and keep their hopes of progressing alive.

Germany suffered one of the biggest shocks of the first round of World Cup games, as they were beaten 2-1 by Japan, in a result that proved we should listen to otters more often.

That loss put them on the edge of a possible early elimination, which would have mirrored how they fared four years ago in Russia, when they couldn't make it out of the group.

Hansi Flick knew his team would be out if Japan beat Costa Rica, who'd lost 7-0 to Spain, and his own side lost for a second game in a row, to the Spanish.

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However, on Sunday afternoon, Costa Rica sprung a surprise of their own, bouncing back from the battering in their first game to beat Japan.

That took some pressure off Germany, although they still knew a loss to Luis Enrique's side would mean their future was out of their own hands.

It looked like that would be the case when Alvaro Morata came off the bench to give the 2010 World Cup winners the lead in the 62nd minute.

Spain were heading towards the three points that would guarantee their progress into the next round, however, with just eight minutes of normal time remaining, Germany found the unlikeliest of heroes.

Werder Bremen striker Fullkrug came off the bench to score the equalising goal, just weeks after the relatively unknown 29-year-old made his international debut.

The goal earned Flick's team an extremely much needed point and means that their path into the last 16 is much clearer, although not fully in their hands.

Should Spain get back to winning ways, then the 2014 world champions would merely need to beat Costa Rica on Thursday night.

If Hajime Moriyasu team manage to once again manage to get a positive result then it is still possible for Germany to make it through, thanks to Fullkrug's goal.

A draw between Japan and Spain would mean Germany needing to win by two goals vs their Central American opponents, or by one goal as long as they score more than Japan.

Costa Rica are still not out of it either, and would merely need a victory against Germany to make it through, and should both they and Japan win then both the European sides would be out.

Germany players celebrate with Fullkrug. Image: Alamy
Germany players celebrate with Fullkrug. Image: Alamy

Fullkrug has played much of his career in Bundesliga 2, although most of his recent seasons have been in the German top tier, with either Werder Bremen or Hannover 96.

Werder were in the second division last season, earning promotion back to the Bundesliga, with the forward scoring 19 times in 33 appearances.

This season has been his best campaign though, and he has scored 10 times in just 14 league games, with his side in ninth place.

He got a surprise call up to the World Cup squad and scored in his debut, a pre tournament friendly vs Oman, before getting his first cap in an official game in the loss to Japan.

He has certainly made an impact on the tournament, now he just needs to help his team see it through in the next game.

Featured Image Credit: beIN Sport

Topics: Germany, Spain, Football World Cup, Football, Japan

Ryan Sidle
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