By Doug McIntyre
FOX Sports Soccer Writer
England narrowly avoided a second consecutive defeat to open their 2022-23 UEFA Nations League campaign, with Harry Kane’s late penalty salvaging a draw in a hotly anticipated match Tuesday against longtime rival Germany.
The 1-1 draw at Allianz Arena in Munich flattered the visitors just days after Gareth Southgate’s side were upset by Hungary in Budapest last weekend in their group stage opener.
The Germans seemed to be on their way to a comfortable victory after Jonas Hofmann scored five minutes into the second half, but the Three Lions were awarded a controversial late spot kick that Kane calmly sent past home goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to pull his team level in the 88th minute. It was Kane’s 50th career international goal:
Here are three quick thoughts on the match.
England overcome deficit, early injury
Southgate was forced to make an unexpected lineup change just 14 minutes into the match after Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips went down with a leg injury.
The early switch didn’t help the Three Lions. Jude Bellingham came on as a replacement, but the delay in getting Phillips off the field contributed to a disjointed first half for the visitors.
England also missed Phillips. The 26-year-old has become a regular for Southgate since Phillips’ debut two years ago, but he continues to be beset by injury. He started in last summer’s European Championship final loss to Italy, and he has amassed more than 20 caps despite missing more than three months of the Premier League season due to a hamstring injury. Calf and shoulder ailments cost him almost two months of the campaign before that.
But England regrouped in the second half — even if they might have gotten a little lucky on the penalty call, as one on their players appeared to be in an offside position during the buildup of the decisive play. But only the foul on Kane was reviewed by the referee, who pointed to the spot.
Getting something from the match was important for England after Saturday’s defeat. And they did that while inflicting on their old enemy Germany a tie that must feel like a loss.
Germany left kicking themselves
The stalemate extended Die Mannschaft’s unbeaten streak since Hansi Flick replaced longtime manager Jogi Loew last September to an 11th contest, but it was clear that the Germans knew they blew this one. Although the home side allowed six shots on goal and 15 in all, Neuer’s incredible stop on Kane not long before he scored the equalizer was really the only golden scoring chance they gave up. A win for Germany was there for the taking.
Missed offside call or not, the penalty conceded by Nico Schlotterbeck was clumsy. Up the other end, Germany squandered several second-half opportunities to put the match away. All in all, the unsatisfying result was largely self-inflicted. Not only will Germany be kicking themselves for not getting some morale-boosting revenge on England after being eliminated by them in last summer’s Euros in the Round of 16 at Wembley, but they also now have just two points from two games in Nations League play.
The good news for Flick’s squad? Germany will get another crack at beating England before the World Cup, with the Nations League rematch set for September. Winning that one in London would be a perfect momentum-builder heading toward Qatar. It would also turn Tuesday’s disappointment into a long forgotten memory.
Three Lions a true World Cup contender?
As of this writing, FOXBet.com has England favored to hoist the World Cup ahead of Argentina, Spain, Germany and defending champion France and behind only Brazil. The Three Lions are in Group B with the United States and face the Americans on Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving, on FOX.
But while Southgate’s hungry young Lions might be the best English team since their lone World Cup win six decades ago, the fact is that they haven’t proven that they are better than any of those supposed underdogs — who have a combined nine World Cup titles among them — heading into soccer’s showpiece event this fall.
They’ll take the point they got Tuesday. But England sure haven’t looked like world-beaters this month. While they outshot Germany, the hosts had the better chances. And England is still overly reliant on Kane.
England has a good team, no doubt. Are they great, or at least as good as they’ll need to be to win it all in Qatar? That remains to be seen.
One of the leading soccer journalists in North America, Doug McIntyre has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.
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