Football

Schulz, Brandt aid rebuilding of Germany

Coach Loew pleased with comeback win, thanks to goals from unlikely sources

When Germany took on Peru in a friendly yesterday morning (Singapore time), Julian Brandt hadn't scored a goal for the national team in over a year, while Nico Schulz was making his international debut.

By the end of the game, both players popped up with the goals that earned Germany a come-from-behind 2-1 win, with coach Joachim Loew insisting his side did enough to warrant their victory, despite admitting Schulz's winner was "fortuitous".

Peru struck first at the Rhein-Neckar Arena in Sinsheim, brutally exposing Loew's side on the counter-attack in the 22nd minute, when Luis Advincula burst down the right wing and beat goalkeeper Marc Andre ter Stegen at the near post.

The lead lasted just three minutes, as Bayer Leverkusen winger Brandt levelled the score with a delicate chip over Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.

The home side finally forced the issue in the 85th minute, as TSG Hoffenheim defender Schulz pounced on a loose ball in the final third and squeezed his shot underneath Gallese.

"I haven't watched the goal back yet, but it was lucky," Schulz told RTL.

"I don't think it would have gone in in any other stadium."

Loew echoed Schulz's sentiment, but praised the 25-year-old for a solid performance at left-back in his first cap for Germany in the stadium where he plays his club football, AFP reported.

"The winning goal was slightly fortuitous, but we also missed plenty of chances in the first half," Loew said on the German Football Association's official website.

"At the end of the day, the goalkeeper should have saved the winning goal. But I'm still really pleased for Schulz, he put in a very engaged performance today.

"He also made a good impression in training and made a very committed game. He is physically very good and fast."

Brandt also boosted his chances of locking down a starting XI spot with an energetic and creative display.

"Beyond the World Cup, I've gained a lot of self-confidence, I feel very comfortable in the national team," said Brandt, who scored his first goal for his country since finding the net in a 7-0 drubbing of San Marino in June 2017.

"I try to use every minute and bring in my strengths and I'm happy about my goal."

Loew, who is trying to rebuild both his reputation and Germany's after a humiliating group-stage exit at the World Cup in the summer, said they were worthy winners.

"I am pleased that we won, you got the sense during the game that the team really wanted to get the win," Loew said.

"Overall, we played quite well, without setting the world alight. Every win will do us the world of good, though."

LOEW THANKS FANS

Loew also thanked Germany supporters for sticking with both him and his players, especially given the huge disappointment at the World Cup.

"In the second half, we didn't quite get our balance right, which we still need to perfect," the 58-year-old said.

"We were a little bit more open at the back in comparison to the first half.

"We will need a bit more time to make sure our defence is a bit more stable.

"The reception we've received in both Munich (for the 0-0 draw with France) and Sinsheim has been very positive. I believe that the team have understood the fact that we're under a lot pressure, although the fans have continued to back us.

"We have to carry on working to get that identification with the team back."

Football