Makeshift Germany squeeze past Czech Republic in friendly

·2-min read
Luca Waldschmidt (R) celebrates scoring Germany's winning goal in Leipzig
Luca Waldschmidt (R) celebrates scoring Germany's winning goal in Leipzig

A first-half goal by Benfica striker Luca Waldschmidt sealed a 1-0 friendly win for Germany over the Czech Republic on Wednesday as the hosts kept a clean sheet for the first time this year.

A makeshift Germany team kept the Czechs goalless in Leipzig in a warm-up for Nations League matches at home against Ukraine on Saturday and away to Spain next Tuesday.

"We defended well," said midfielder Florian Neuhaus. "Now we want to win against Ukraine on Saturday."

Germany coach Joachim Loew opted to rest most of his first-choice stars and used the friendly behind closed doors to field effectively a reserve team.

Loew admitted the line-up will probably "not play again" in the build-up to the Euro 2020 finals next June, but was pleased to see "the boys put their backs into it".

"It was the win we wanted and we can be happy with the new players," Loew told RTL, after Wolfsburg's Ridle Baku and PSV Eindhoven's Philipp Max made their debuts on the wings.

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, one of the few of Loew's first-choice players, captained the side before being replaced at half-time by Borussia Dortmund's Mahmoud Dahoud.

The 27-year-old Max was one of the few players to shine and played a key role in what proved to be the winning goal.

He reacted fastest to a parried save to fire in a quick cross, allowing former Freiburg forward Waldschmidt to tap home in the 13th minute for his second goal on his fifth Germany appearance.

Dortmund winger Julian Brandt, who has a good chance of making Germany's Euro 2020 squad, wasted one of the best chances of the night when he fired over with the goal at his mercy.

The Czech Republic lost goalkeeper Filip Nguyen and midfielder David Pavelka in the build-up after both tested positive for coronavirus and rarely tested the German defence in Leipzig.

Czech replacement Matej Vydra squandered the visitors' best chances late on when the Burnley forward headed straight at Germany goalkeeper Kevin Trapp, then fired over moments later.