Hansi Flick insists Germany deserved maximum points after coming from behind to beat Romania in World Cup qualifying Group J on Friday.

Thomas Muller's late strike earned a 2-1 victory for Flick's side in Hamburg, after Serge Gnabry cancelled out Ianis Hagi's first-half effort.

As a result, Die Mannschaft moved six points clear at the top of Group J with three matches remaining, and could seal their qualification by beating North Macedonia on Monday.

They also made it four wins from four under Flick, whose perfect start since replacing Joachim Low after Euro 2020 continues.

The former Bayern Munich boss was disappointed by the manner in which Germany conceded the opening goal – the first of his tenure – having seen the initial awarding of a penalty overturned by referee Cuneyt Cakir just 52 seconds earlier.

Nevertheless, he was pleased with the response of his players, while also paying tribute to the home support at the Volksparkstadion.

"Conceding goals always annoys me," Flick told RTL.

"We were about to have a penalty, and then we conceded. It wasn't easy for us to put up with that. 

"We were man to man at the back. A number six simply has to stay there to cover, but we also have to say it was a very good goal

"But the team gave everything and the fans pushed us. In the end, we deserved to win against a team that defended very deep."

Match-winner Muller added: "I thought we played a very committed game and tried a lot. Going into the break 1-0 behind was not a good feeling. 

"We have to compliment the fans. When we scored the second, they literally exploded. We could feel the connection on the pitch.

"Even when we fell behind, we knew that not everything we did before was bad. It's nice when you still get a result afterwards."

Thomas Muller scored the winner as Germany came from behind to defeat Romania 2-1 in Hamburg and move six points clear at the top of World Cup qualifying Group J.

The hosts fell behind to Ianis Hagi's wonderful individual effort after just nine minutes at the Volksparkstadion.

But Serge Gnabry's fifth goal of the qualifying campaign levelled matters, with Germany leaving it late to complete the turnaround.

Hansi Flick's side did so nine minutes from time, substitute Muller marking his 107th international cap by turning home a corner at the far post.

Timo Werner can be "very satisfied" with his development at Chelsea, says Germany head coach Hansi Flick.

The 25-year-old joined Chelsea for a reported €50million (£45m) from RB Leipzig contract ahead of the 2020-21 season.

He endured a difficult debut campaign in English football, though the versatile attacker's 12 goals was the joint-most of any Chelsea player alongside Tammy Abraham.

After initially losing his place in the side this term following the arrival of Romelu Lukaku, Werner has been a starter in Chelsea's last three domestic matches.

With two goals and an assist from eight appearances overall, Flick is pleased with Werner's form in a Chelsea shirt.

"Everyone has to take responsibility and show their own initiative," he said in a news conference ahead of Friday's World Cup qualifier against Romania.

"As for the development of Timo at Chelsea: He can be very satisfied. 

"But of course Chelsea have a team that is not so easy to play for. Kai [Havertz] also experiences that. The team is top-notch and is of great quality. 

"That's why a professional's career means that you have to go through valleys like this."


Werner is part of Germany's squad as Flick's side look to tighten their grip on top spot in World Cup qualification Group J.

Germany won their first three qualifiers under new boss Flick last month, scoring 12 goals without conceding in victories over Liechtenstein, Armenia and Iceland.

That made Flick only the second Germany head coach to win three out of three without conceding to begin his tenure after predecessor Joachim Low. 

Focus now turns to the visit of Romania, who have also not conceded in their last three matches.

"Romania are a team that wants to play football," Flick said. "They have played the last three games without letting a goal in. 

"We have to be very intense and put our opponents under pressure.

"All our players are fit and healthy and we are happy. We have a couple of players for each position, so we are spoiled for choice. We have enormous quality in this squad.

"The atmosphere is good, with the young players fitting in well, and we have trained superbly."

Flick also confirmed at Thursday's pre-match news conference that Antonio Rudiger and Niklas Sule will start in defence against Romania.

Real Madrid winger Takefusa Kubo was on target again as hosts Japan eliminated France from the Tokyo Olympics men's football tournament with a 4-0 win on Wednesday.

Kubo netted in Japan's first two Group A games and gave Madrid another reminder of his quality by opening the scoring against France in Yokohama.

In doing so, the 20-year-old became the first Japanese player to score in each group-stage match at the same Olympic tournament.

Hiroki Sakai doubled Japan's lead prior to half-time before Koji Miyoshi and Daizen Maeda completed the rout, either side of Randal Kolo Muani being sent off.

Japan advance as the only side with a 100 per cent record, whereas France – who had Timothee Pembele and Andre-Pierre Gignac in their line-up – are out at the first stage.

Only Fiji (23 in 2016) and Serbia-Montenegro (14 in 2004) have let in more than the 11 goals France conceded at Tokyo 2020 in the 21st century.

"The tournament was really difficult for us, because we are young players and these are the first games we have played with the team," France midfielder Alexis Beka Beka said. 

"One of the big differences was the other teams knew each other much better. But it's all about the details. The game is never finished."

Mexico recovered from their loss to Japan last time out by beating South Africa 3-0 in a game in which both sides had a player sent off, seeing them through in second place ahead of France.

 


SPAIN MATCH CLASS OF '92

Spain were not perfect in the pool phase, having been held for the second time in three games in Wednesday's clash with Argentina, but they still went through as Group C winners.

It is the first time La Roja have achieved that feat at the Olympic Games since the likes of Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique went on to win gold in Barcelona in 1992.

Spain dominated possession against Argentina and took the lead through Mikel Merino's 66th-minute strike at Saitama Stadium.

Tomas Belmonte's late equaliser came against the run of play, but it was not enough to prevent 2004 and 2008 gold medallists Argentina crashing out early on.

London 2012 quarter-finalists Egypt finished level on four points with Argentina after beating Australia 2-0 and progress to the last eight, where heavyweights Brazil await, by virtue of a superior goal difference.

HISTORIC ACHIEVEMENT FOR OLYWHITES

New Zealand picked up the point they needed against Romania in a goalless draw to advance to the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time.

Goalkeeper Michael Woud redeemed himself for his horror show in the loss to Honduras by making a string of stops against Romania, who would have advanced with a win.

"It really came down to desire tonight," said OlyWhites head coach Danny Hay. "The boys really dug deep and showed a lot of that.

"I'm really proud of the performance. It's historic and we look forward to a quarter-final for a New Zealand men's team."

New Zealand also needed a favour from South Korea, who followed up a 4-0 win against Romania with a 6-0 victory over Honduras on Wednesday en route to topping Group B.

Hwang Ui-jo scored three of the goals, two of those from the penalty spot, and a showdown with Mexico is up next for rampant South Korea for a place in the semi-finals.

RIO FINALISTS GERMANY FALL SHORT

Germany will not get the opportunity to match or better their silver medal from Rio in 2016 as a 1-1 draw with Ivory Coast saw their opponents through at their expense.

Nothing less than a win would do for Stefan Kuntz's men but they fell behind to a Benjamin Henrichs own goal with 67 minutes played.

While Eduard Lowen's impressive free-kick did set up a tense finish in Miyagi, Germany were unable to find a winner and are on the plane home.

Ivory Coast will now take on Spain, the last European nation standing, in the quarter-finals.

Also through to the knockout stage are reigning champions Brazil after seeing off Saudi Arabia 3-1, with Richarlison's late double adding to Matheus Cunha's first-half opener.

France got the better of South Africa in a seven-goal thriller as Andre-Pierre Gignac's hat-trick inspired Les Bleus to a 4-3 victory at the Tokyo Olympics.

Having been thrashed 4-1 by Mexico in their opening game of Group A, France hit back to keep their chances of progression alive, though they had to do so the hard way in Saitama.

Indeed, South Africa led on three occasions during a remarkable second half, yet it was Les Bleus who took the points.

Liberato Cacace's stunner was not enough to propel New Zealand to victory against Honduras in Group B, while reigning champions Brazil could only draw 0-0 with the Ivory Coast and Spain overcame Australia thanks to Mikel Oyarzabal's late winner.

 

GIGNAC AND SAVANIER SETTLE THRILLER

France were on the wrong end of conceding four last time out, and though they still let three in this time around, Teji Savanier's stoppage-time goal saw them clinch victory.

It was 35-year-old Gignac who had previously dragged France level on three occasions – a close-range finish followed by a thumping header before the Tigres striker, the leading scorer in the competition, converted his second penalty of the tournament to cancel out Teboho Mokoena's glorious 81st-minute strike.

Luther Singh had missed a first-half penalty for South Africa, with Kobamelo Kodisang and Evidence Makgopa also getting on the scoresheet.

But Gignac's efforts set the stage for France to nose themselves ahead when Montpellier's experienced Savanier lashed home, sending South Africa out in the process.

France sit third in Group A, three points behind leaders Japan, who survived a late scare to beat Mexico 2-1.

ALL WHITES LET LEAD SLIP

Cacace's exceptional strike put New Zealand ahead after just 10 minutes in Kashima – the defender picking out the top-right corner with a first-time effort from 30 yards out.

Luis Palma restored parity in first-half stoppage time, yet Chris Wood carried on his scoring form to put New Zealand back in front just after the restart.

Yet substitutes proved the difference for Honduras. Juan Obregon netted with 12 minutes remaining, paving the way for Rigoberto Rivas to clinch the comeback victory.

Matters were much more simple for South Korea, as they cruised to a 4-0 triumph against Romania, meaning all four Group B teams are on four points heading into the final matchday.

 

OYARZABAL RECORDS LONG-AWAITED SPAIN WIN

Spain secured their first win at an Olympic Games since 2000 thanks to Oyarzabal's header against Australia, which came with nine minutes of normal time remaining.

The 24-year-old Real Sociedad winger – who played a pivotal role in Spain's run to the semi-finals at Euro 2020 – has put La Roja top of Group C heading into Wednesday's encounter with Argentina, who beat Egypt.

Spain, who drew with Egypt in their opener, won gold in 1992 and silver in 2000, but had only qualified once since then, but they failed to score across their three appearances in the 2012 London Games.

CHAMPIONS HELD AS GERMANY BOUNCE BACK

Brazil sparkled in their 4-2 win over Germany on matchday one, though they could not find a way past the Ivory Coast, who held them to a 0-0 draw in Group D.

Douglas Luiz was sent off early on for Brazil, who missed a last-gasp chance to seal qualification through substitute Malcom after the Ivory Coast had also been reduced to 10 men.

Meanwhile, Germany recovered from their defeat on matchday one to beat Saudi Arabia 3-2 – Felix Uduokhai netting the decisive goal in the 75th minute.

England manager Gareth Southgate seemed unimpressed by Jordan Henderson's decision to take a penalty – which he ultimately missed – off Dominic Calvert-Lewin in Sunday's 1-0 win over Romania.

The Three Lions were in action for the last time ahead of Euro 2020, with England set to face Croatia at Wembley next Sunday.

Marcus Rashford scored the winning goal with a cool spot-kick after the excellent Jack Grealish had been hauled down.

But Henderson, a half-time substitute, was unable to follow suit as Romania goalkeeper Florin Nita saved his penalty late on following a clumsy Vlad Chiriches foul on Calvert-Lewin.

The Everton striker was expected to take the kick, but Henderson – playing for the first time in 106 days – stepped up as he looked to score his first senior England goal.

His failure was not punished by Romania, though Southgate suggested he will be having words with Henderson.

"We had Marcus Rashford on penalties, then James Ward-Prowse but both came off," Southgate explained to ITV.

"I was expecting Dominic to take it and when Hendo walked over I thought he was making sure that happened, so I will have to check Hendo's thought process."

When it was put to Southgate that Henderson had pulled rank as captain, Southgate replied with a smile: "We will pull rank next time."

Otherwise it was a largely unremarkable match and performance from England, who were perhaps fortunate to get their victory such were the quality of some of the Romanian chances.

"Yes, we had chances to make it more comfortable but so did they, the first half we did not work hard enough without the ball, we were too stretched and did not press well," Southgate added.

"After half-time, I thought we improved and it was helpful. We went to 4-3-3 later and I have to say it was a good exercise, players needed the minutes and learned a lot from the game. It was good to win."

England beat Romania 1-0 thanks to a Marcus Rashford penalty in their final pre-Euro 2020 warm-up match but the game was once again marred by supporters booing the Three Lions for taking the knee.

Fans jeered England players for showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement at the start of the 1-0 win over Austria earlier in the week, and despite Gareth Southgate clearly explaining on Saturday that his team's gesture was motivated by racial injustice rather than politics, boos were clearly audible once more at the Riverside Stadium.

Potentially deflated by those fans' blatant disregard for the team's feelings, perhaps England's rather subdued start in Middlesbrough had a straightforward explanation, with Southgate's side not posing much of a threat until Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Jadon Sancho hit the crossbar after the half-hour mark.

The visitors looked as much of an attacking threat as England, but good work from Jack Grealish earned a penalty with 22 minutes to go and Rashford – captain for the day – converted with aplomb, with Jordan Henderson unable to follow suit from the spot a little later.

Romania looked much sharper than England initially, with Denis Alibec shooting just wide of the top-right corner and Razvan Marin firing at Sam Johnstone following a flowing move.

Florin Nita in the visitors' net had very little to do before having the bar come to his rescue in the 32nd minute, keeping out a ferocious Calvert-Lewin header, and then again six minutes later as Sancho's bending effort following a clever offload by Grealish had left the goalkeeper looking helpless.

But Romania still posed a threat at the other end, with Deian Sorescu testing Johnstone after being released in behind the suspect Tyrone Mings.

An encouraging aspect was the performance of Rashford, who after a difficult spell at club level, did well in the 62nd minute as he collected Calvert-Lewin's lay-off and burst into the Romania half before shooting wide on the stretch after a lung-busting run.

Rashford was decisive soon after, however, coolly slotting in a penalty after Grealish – who was fouled on five occasions more than anyone else – found himself tripped by Tiberiu Capusa.

Henderson, introduced at half-time for his first outing since February, passed up the chance to make it 2-0 from the spot as Nita saved his kick following a foul on Calvert-Lewin by Vlad Chiriches.

That came hot on the heels of Johnstone producing a wonderful stop to thwart Andrei Ivan, with England ultimately settling for the 1-0 win.

Germany head coach Joachim Low bemoaned his side's wastefulness in front of goal during their slender 1-0 World Cup qualifying win against Romania on Sunday.

Serge Gnabry scored the only goal of the game in the 16th minute, with the Bayern Munich forward, Leroy Sane and Timo Werner going on to squander opportunities to extend Die Mannschaft's advantage.

That almost came back to haunt Germany in the closing stages as the hosts went close through George Puscas and Nicolae Stanciu. 

Germany – the 2014 world champions – ultimately held on, though, to follow up Thursday's opening Group J win over Iceland with another three points. 

Low was largely pleased with Germany's display, but acknowledged they should have added to Gnabry's early goal.

"Romania were definitely the better team than Iceland in terms of football," he said. "We worked very well against the ball today and won some battles. 

"We could have made the game easier for ourselves if we had made it 2-0. If there's something to complain about, it's the big opportunities.

"The goalkeeper saved very well several times, but we could have been ice cold and more concentrated in front of goal.

"When the opponent has nothing more to lose, they throw everything forward. We had several chances in which we could have finished more cleanly, but we have three points."

Germany made just one substitution before stoppage time – Werner replacing Kai Havertz in the 77th minute – and Low said he stuck with his starting XI for so long as the game was under control. 

"It's important to get used to it," he added. "But I didn't switch because the game was under control for a long time. 

"We were doing well, the midfield did a good job. The opponent had no chances for a long time, so it wasn't absolutely necessary for a long time."

Joshua Kimmich, who struck the crossbar in the first half with a deflected half-volley, agreed with Low's assessment that Germany made life unnecessarily difficult for themselves. 

The Bayern Munich midfielder said: "We could have made it easier for ourselves. We were lucky that Romania didn't equalise in the 90th minute; that would've been karma for us not scoring again.

"We have to score earlier then we will have a quieter evening. I think we largely controlled the game, but still we didn't manage to decide it earlier."

Germany will be looking to make it three wins from three Group J games when they host North Macedonia on Wednesday. 

Germany made it two wins from two in World Cup qualifying as Serge Gnabry's first-half goal sealed a 1-0 win over Romania on Sunday. 

Joachim Low's side opened their Group J campaign with a 3-0 win at home to Iceland on Thursday and they put in another dominant display at the National Arena to swat aside Mirel Radoi's men.  

Die Mannschaft had 18 shots to the hosts' nine, but they were limited to just a solitary goal, the impressive Gnabry securing maximum points with a close-range finish after 16 minutes. 

The result means Germany are top of Group J on six points, ahead of Armenia on goal difference, and three points clear of Romania and North Macedonia.

6 points from 6 #DieMannschaft #ROUGER pic.twitter.com/6bawjdLQGO

— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) March 28, 2021

Kai Havertz and Valentin Mihaila exchanged chances in the early stages, before Gnabry put Germany ahead.

Havertz surged into the penalty area and slid an inviting ball across goal, which the Bayern Munich forward easily slotted home from eight yards.

Joshua Kimmich then thundered against the crossbar from distance, with Florin Nita keeping out Gnabry's follow-up effort as Germany ultimately failed to add to their advantage.

Nita pawed away a fierce Leon Goretzka drive shortly after the restart, while the Romania goalkeeper got down well to deny Gnabry a superb solo goal before the hour mark. 

Leroy Sane and Timo Werner missed presentable opportunities inside the final half-hour, while George Puscas tested Manuel Neuer late on as Germany secured another three points on what is shaping up to be a smooth progression to Qatar 2022. 

 

Germany head coach Joachim Low admits he is not completely satisfied with his side with just three months to go until the delayed European Championship finals.

Die Mannschaft cruised to a 3-0 win over Iceland in their opening World Cup 2022 qualifier on Thursday through goals from Leon Goretzka, Kai Havertz and Ilkay Gundogan.

It was a welcome win for Low's men, coming on the back of a 6-0 hammering against Spain in their final match of a poor 2020 that saw them win only three of their eight games.

Germany had 81.5 per cent of the ball, attempted 1,053 passes and had 15 shots compared to Iceland's eight, but Low feels there is plenty of room for improvement.

"I wasn't exactly full of praise for the whole game," he said at a news conference on Saturday previewing the trip to Romania.

"We could have done better in the second half in particular. If we look to the Euros, we have to improve in a few areas. 

"It was a good start and we had a lot of well implemented play. But I'm not yet completely satisfied."

Without the influential Toni Kroos, who withdrew from the squad with a knock, Germany's midfield three of Gundogan, Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich impressed against Iceland.

Jamal Musiala made his debut as a second-half substitute in Duisburg, while Borussia Monchengladbach's highly-rated Florian Neuhaus was also introduced for his fourth cap.

But Low insists Kroos, who remains a regular for Real Madrid, is still integral to his plans.

"The midfield set the tone against Iceland, everyone in their own way. I'm happy about that. But Kroos is a player with immense value to us," said Low, who will end his 15-year tenure after Euro 2020.

"Our strength at major tournaments has been players coming off the bench. We have good players in midfield - any team who wants to achieve something needs that."

Germany's win over Iceland was their 17th in a row in World Cup qualifying, setting a new record and placing them top of Group J ahead of Sunday's trip to Romania.

Niklas Sule has been ruled out of both that match and Wednesday's visit of North Macedonia, while Robin Gosens is also out and Goretzka and Leroy Sane are carrying knocks.

Low does not intend to make many changes ​for the showdown at the National Arena as Germany seek back-to-back competitive wins for the first time since November 2019.

"I'm going to wait until tomorrow to see how things develop with Leon," Low said. "He is the first option in midfield and I hope he can play from the start.

"If he doesn't then it is possible to let Musiala play, or move Serge Gnabry deeper and bring in Timo Werner. Our usual defensive line will start."

Romania kicked off their qualifying campaign with a 3-2 home win against North Macedonia to make it four games without defeat, scoring 12 goals across those fixtures.

And Low expects to face an attack-minded side in Bucharest.

"They have great strengths on the attack and act much more aggressively than Iceland," he said. "We will face completely different challenges.

"I've seen Romania one time or another and we have a lot of information on them. 

"They have technically well-trained players who want the ball. They don't want to defend so much, but they want to play forward. I think Romania's central midfield is very good."

Germany head coach Joachim Low has revealed he is planning to learn Spanish in the future but insisted he does not have a club job in LaLiga lined up.

Low will step down as Germany boss after this year's European Championships after the German Football Association (DFB) agreed to his request to leave the position early.

His contract originally ran to the 2022 World Cup but Low will instead depart after the rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament which starts in June this year.

The 61-year-old has been at the helm since 2006 when he replaced Jurgen Klinsmann and guided his country to World Cup success in 2014.

Speaking at a media conference on Wednesday ahead of World Cup qualifiers with Iceland, Romania and North Macedonia, Low quashed talk of a job in Spanish football.

"I was thinking about it a little while ago. But this hasn't anything to do with a club," Low said.

"You could use Spanish in the whole world. In South America, Europe and the USA you could always use it. After English, it is a very important language. 

"I like the language and wanted to learn it at some point. Maybe I will have the chance to deepen that in the future. But that hasn't anything to do with a Spanish club, it is a useful language to know, though."

Low has taken charge of 189 games for Germany and overseen 120 wins, 38 draws and 31 defeats with a win percentage of 63.49.

The build-up to the Thursday's clash with Iceland in Duisburg has been dominated by talk of who will succeed Low, but midfielder Emre Can insisted the players have not been distracted.

"I think for us players it's almost irrelevant. It's more a topic for the media," Can said.

"Football players are always under pressure when we play for the national team and participate at tournaments. It doesn't matter if there is debate around the coach or not. 

"The coach has made his decision and for sure he is highly motivated for the European Championships, obviously we want to play a successful European Championships for his farewell."

Hansi Flick, who won a remarkable sextuple in his first year as Bayern Munich's head coach, has been mooted as the DFB's preferred successor to Low.

The 56-year-old was Low's assistant coach for almost eight years, from August 2006 to July 2014, leaving his role after Germany's World Cup triumph.

Bayern have been the form side in Europe in Flick's time in charge, and despite a shock exit in the DFB-Pokal earlier this season, are still well in the hunt for a Bundesliga and Champions League double.

However, Bayern and Germany midfielder Joshua Kimmich does not expect his club boss to instead become his national team manager.

"Hansi Flick has a contract and we are incredibly successful here," Kimmich told Bild. "That's why I do not assume that he will."

Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has withdrawn from the Germany squad for their upcoming fixtures because of an adductor injury.

The 31-year-old linked up with his national side on Monday for the World Cup qualifiers with Iceland, Romania and North Macedonia.

However, Germany confirmed on Tuesday that Kroos has returned to Madrid as a precautionary measure and will play no part in any of their games over the next eight days.

"Our medical department has examined and treated Toni intensively," said head coach Joachim Low, who will step down from his position at the end of the rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament.

"He would have liked to stay with us, and I am reluctant to be without him. But with a view to the Euros, we decided that the full recovery from this injury must be a priority."

Kroos earned his 100th cap for Germany in October's 3-3 draw with Switzerland and has featured 35 times in all competitions for Madrid this season.

He previously missed two games earlier this season with a gluteal injury, seeing him play no part in the league wins over Real Valladolid and Levante.

Germany are also without Niklas Sule and Robin Gosens for Thursday's clash with Iceland in Duisburg, the pair unavailable with thigh and muscular problems respectively.

The build-up to the match has been dominated by talk of who will succeed Low as the next Germany head coach, but Manuel Neuer insists it will be business as usual on the field.

"We had a short team meeting and are concentrating on our tasks," he said. "We have to be well prepared for the European Championship and will use every game to do that.

"We cannot make any more mistakes. We have a strong group, against some strong opponents, so every game is a final from the start.

"Of course now we want to crown this era with a success. The coach deserves that to end with a success after the successful years.

"He is is very motivated and ambitious. It's not that he thinks he's going to retire. He's enthusiastic. He wants to quit as national coach as successfully as possible."

Under-21s boss Stefan Kuntz is among the frontrunners to replace Low, who has been at the helm since 2006 and guided his country to World Cup success in 2014.

Ralf Rangnick and Hansi Flick, who manages Neuer at club level with Bayern, are also in the running, while Jurgen Klopp and Julian Nagelsmann have distanced themselves.

Asked about the candidates for one of the top jobs in football, Neuer said: "A national coach must have experience and must have done one or the other in German football. 

"He should know the Bundesliga. It's not about what we think, but about the goals that we have in front of us."

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