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Late Kimmich penalty salvages Germany draw with Ukraine

BREMEN (AFP) – An injury time penalty from Germany captain Joshua Kimmich salvaged a 3-3 draw with Ukraine in a friendly in Bremen on Monday.

Germany’s midfielder Joshua Kimmich prepares to kick the ball in a penalty shootout to score an equalising goal during the international friendly football match between Germany and Ukraine, in Bremen, northern Germany on June 12. PHOTO: AFP

Germany trailed 3-1 with less than 10 minutes remaining but a goal from Kai Havertz gave the home side hope, before the Chelsea forward won a penalty in injury time, bringing Kimmich to the spot.

Despite the comeback, an impressive Ukraine led for much of the match and will take significant momentum into this month’s crucial Euro 2024 qualifiers against North Macedonia and Malta.

Asked if his side had given away victory, Ukraine manager Serhiy Rebrov, in his first match in charge, said “are you asking me whether it’s a success if we draw 3-3 with Germany?”

“I think we created enough chances and we could have scored even more.”

The manager thanked Germany for hosting the friendly, telling the post-match press conference “this is an important match for Ukraine”.

“We are grateful to Germany for supporting us in the war”.

Germany coach Hansi Flick lamented the “individual mistakes” and said his side needed to “keep working and showing that we’ve improved the things we’re training”.

“We know it’s a long process, but it’s the process that’s important” Flick told Germany’s ZDF network.

“We started well,” Kimmich said after the game, “but then conceded two stupid goals. That’s exactly what we need to stop”.

Flick stayed true to his pre-match promise to bring the “attacking power” ahead of the game, which was Germany’s 1000th top level match.

The manager selected a back three, allowing the offence-minded David Raum and Marius Wolf to roam the wings.

The script looked to be going according to plan for the hosts early, Antonio Ruediger’s pressure forcing a hurried Mykhaylo Mudryk to pass directly to an unmarked Niclas Fuellkrug just metres from goal.

While the striker blasted centimetres wide, Fuellkrug had the ball in the net soon after, deflecting a Wolf shot into the net just six minutes in.

Originally awarded to Wolf, the goal was later credited to Fuellkrug, making it the Bremen striker’s seventh in seven games in Germany colours.

Germany pushed for a second but Ukraine struck twice in five minutes to turn the match on its head.

Ukraine latched onto a lazy pass from Julian Brandt, Viktor Tsyhankov’s counter-attacking goal awarded on VAR review after being initially scratched off for offside.

The visitors countered again and it was Mudryk who made the difference, the Chelsea forward’s shot deflecting in off a flat-footed Ruediger for an own goal.

Flick upset the home fans by taking off Bremen striker Fuellkrug at halftime for Havertz, but Ukraine extended their lead soon after, again due to a Germany mistake.

Matthias Ginter failed to deal with a high back pass from Julian Brandt on the edge of the area. Artem Dovbyk pounced, before squaring to Viktor Tsygankov who made it 3-1.

With the match seemingly out of reach, the visitors took off the impressive Mudryk with the month’s remaining fixtures in mind.

Germany scored next through Havertz, the Chelsea forward slotting in a looping pass from Ruediger to give the home fans hope of a comeback.

The forward won a penalty soon after, brought down in the box by Eduard Sobol, bringing captain Kimmich to the spot.

The Bayern Munich midfielder’s penalty bounced in off the post, saving Germany’s blushes a year out from hosting the 2024 European Championships.

While Germany have already qualified as hosts, Ukraine have showed real promise that they could make it to the tournament, despite a tough qualifying group including Euro 2021 finalists England and Italy.