Germany’s Hansi Flick takes heart from hard-fought point against Spain

<span>Photograph: Luca Bruno/AP</span>
Photograph: Luca Bruno/AP

Hansi Flick said he believes Germany’s draw with Spain will help them strike a rhythm after the substitute Niclas Füllkrug’s late equaliser left both teams feeling confident of reaching the last 16.

The Werder Bremen striker, who scored on his Germany debut on the eve of the tournament, in a friendly win against Oman, cancelled out Álvaro Morata’s second-half strike to boost Germany’s hopes of avoiding an embarrassing group-stage exit at a second successive World Cup.

Germany will qualify for the last 16 if they beat Costa Rica and Japan lose to Group E leaders Spain on Thursday. If Spain and Japan draw, then Germany would need to beat Costa Rica by at least two goals, or by a single-goal margin providing they score more goals than Japan do against Spain.

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Leroy Sané rounded the Spain goalkeeper Unai Simón deep into six minutes of second-half stoppage time but was unable to get a shot away after overrunning the ball and in the first half Antonio Rüdiger had a header from a free-kick correctly ruled offside.

“We knew what it was all about and what was at stake,” Flick, the Germany manager, said. “We saw a Spanish team that knows how to play. At the end we had a very good chance but unfortunately we didn’t hit the back of the net.

“Things start to develop when you start to win so maybe this will give us a boost to give us the self-confidence to score goals. We know that this was just the first step and in the next match against Costa Rica we want to create the conditions so that we can go through to the round of 16.”

Related: Germany cling to World Cup hopes after Niclas Füllkrug forces Spain draw

Luis Enrique, the Spain head coach, said the defender Jordi Alba, who assisted Morata for his goal shortly after the hour, deserves praise, not scrutiny. “What can I say about Jordi Alba? He is a top player, just as [Sergio] Busquets. Sometimes people get tired of older players ... Jordi Alba is the best wing-back in the final third; he still defends so well, he is a top player, just like Busquets.

“People have been trying to retire him [Busquets] for so many years and I hope I can convince Busquets to play another World Cup because I’m sure we can improve when he is on the pitch.”

On Sunday morning Luis Enrique revealed in a social media post that the game would carry extra significance because it would have been the 13th birthday of his daughter Xana, who died of cancer in 2019.

“It was a very special day for me and my family,” the 52-year-old said afterwards. “For a long time, we have tried to live the situation with all normality. Our daughter is not with us any more but she lives with us every day.”