Spain succumbed to Toni Kroos’ late wonder strike during Tuesday’s friendly at Balaidos, as they were defeated 1-0 by Germany.
La Roja handed a debut to Celta Vigo winger Nolito, who replaced Santi Cazorla on the left of the side’s attacking triumvirate behind fellow newcomer Alvaro Morata. Elsewhere, Cesar Azpilicueta, Juan Bernat, Bruno Soriano and Raul Garcia were summoned into the fold, while Isco retained his spot as the No 10, despite Coach Vicente del Bosque’s recent critique.
Like the hosts, Germany named an understrength XI compared to the team that recently thrashed Gibraltar 4-0, with Ron-Robert Zieler, Benedikt Howedes, Antonio Rudiger, Sebastian Rudy and Kevin Volland making up the world champions’ list of new faces.
Die Mannschaft have been criticised for their World Cup hangover and it showed in the early stages of this particular match, as Spain enjoyed the best of the goalmouth action.
Nonetheless, Volland wasted the game’s opening foray, chesting a cross into Iker Casillas’ grateful gloves.
Spain drove forward in numbers, allowing Germany to dominate possession, and Nolito almost capped his debut with a goal when he feinted past Rudiger and fired a shot low and hard from the edge of the box, forcing Zieler into making the save.
However, Germany began to dominate proceedings midway through the half, and their improvement came close to being rewarded, were it not for an excellent instinctive stop from Casillas to tip Mario Gotze’s volleyed finish wide.
Isco developed into Spain’s creative hub as the half wore on, dictating attacks through the middle, and he was disappointed to have seen a long-range effort swerve over the bar from a promising position outside the area.
Confusion erupted near Germany’s goal, when Shkodran Mustafi short-changed Zieler with a header back to the Hannover custodian, and Nolito came within a whisker from latching onto the loose ball, as Rudiger made a vital interception to hook the ball clear.
With the break fast approaching, Rudy unleashed an effort from distance, which failed to trouble Casillas, before Volland and Garcia rounded off the half with a pair of looping headers.
The Juventus striker started the second period brightly enough, finding space down either flank, but his initial cross for Nolito was smothered by Zieler, while he was denied again by the goalkeeper, this time from a shot.
Germany soon woke from their slumber when Kroos whipped a free-kick into the box, courtesy of Nolito’s foul. Rudiger emerged with the ball, amid a melee of players, but his strike took a deflection and danger was averted.
Nolito’s desire could not be faulted, and his set-piece attempt moments after nearly conceding a goal required a strong hand from Zieler. Isco then tried from a similar position, but Raul Albiol’s header veered wide.
Volland then looked to catch out goalkeeping substitute Kiko Casilla with a spectacular piledriver, but the Espanyol man confidently tipped the ball out of play, before Zieler was on his toes again, this time frustrating Pedro following some fine footwork from the winger.
But with just one minute of normal time remaining, Kroos found space in the final third and rifled home a low, stinging finish from 25 yards out past Casilla to secure a memorable German victory over La Roja at the death.
Spain 1-0 Germany
Spain: Casillas (Kiko 77); Azpilicueta, Pique (Albiol 45), Ramos (Bartra 45), Bernat; Busquets (Camacho 45), Bruno; Garcia (Callejon 70), Isco, Nolito (Pedro 77); Morata
Germany: Zieler; Howedes, Mustafi, Rudiger; Rudy, Khedira (Bender 90), Kroos, Durm; Muller (Bellarabi 23), Gotze (Kruse 84), Volland
Referee: Stefan Johannesson (SWE)