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Fuellkrug strikes late to send Germany past Netherlands

Match winner: Germany forward Niclas Fuellkrug runs with the ball (Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV)
Match winner: Germany forward Niclas Fuellkrug runs with the ball (Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV)

An 84th-minute header from Niclas Fuellkrug sent Euro 2024 hosts Germany past the Netherlands 2-1 in a friendly in Frankfurt on Tuesday.

Brought on with 17 minutes remaining, the Borussia Dortmund striker leapt highest to head in a Toni Kroos corner, with goal-line technology confirming the ball had crossed the line.

Germany were forced to come from behind in the match, conceding after just four minutes, with Joey Veerman taking advantage of some sloppy defending from Maximilian Mittelstaedt to give the Dutch the lead.

Mittelstaedt, playing just his second game in Germany colours, made up for his mistake shortly after however, unleashing a stunning strike from outside the box to level the scores on the 10-minute mark.

The victory continues Germany's recent uptick in form, a second-straight victory less than three months from hosting Euro 2024.

Kroos, called back into the German side having retired from international duty in 2021, told RTL "I'm convinced we'll play a good tournament."

"I'm proud of the team. We came out of a difficult time. We have momentum and belief back, even if we didn't start the game well.

"A couple of months ago we may have fallen in a heap, but that didn't happen. We've played two very good friendlies -- it's just a shame we won't get any points (at the Euros) for that."

Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann said "the match was a bit more complicated than it was against the French, but we managed to get a second win in a row -- it feels good."

"The game could have turned the other way in the second-half, but in the final 15 minutes we were dominant and showed we wanted to win."

- 'Outstanding' -

Germany came into the match riding a wave of optimism rarely seen in recent years, buoyed by a convincing 2-0 win over France on Saturday after a disappointing 2023 in which they won just three of 11 matches.

Nagelsmann picked an unchanged XI but unlike Saturday's rapid start, where Florian Wirtz put Germany in front after just seven seconds, the Dutch pounced on a mistake to open the scoring four minutes in.

After an impressive debut against France, Mittelstaedt was the culprit, his poor pass finding Memphis Depay who squared for Veerman to score.

Mittelstaedt would however make up for his mistake, blasting in an incredible shot from outside the box which rocketed in off the crossbar.

Nagelsmann praised the "outstanding" Mittelstaedt, telling RTL after the game "the mistake happened, but what's more important is what happened after, he dealt with it brilliantly."

Jamal Musiala, who set up the equaliser with a delicate pass, almost laid on another after 17 minutes when he threaded the ball expertly for Kai Havertz, but the Arsenal forward shot straight at the 'keeper.

Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman had made seven changes to the side which walloped Scotland 4-0 on Friday.

Despite looking disjointed as a result and rarely troubling the German defence, the visitors succeeded in taking the sting out of the match after the early flurry, with few chances for either side in the second period.

Nagelsmann brought on old for young, replacing Havertz and Wirtz with veterans Thomas Mueller and Fuellkrug, with Germany looking better immediately.

Musiala forced a desperate save moments later as Germany turned up the pressure, with Fuellkrug heading the hosts in front shortly after, his 11th goal in 15 internationals.

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