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Makeshift Germany squeeze past Czech Republic in friendly

A first-half goal by Benfica striker Luca Waldschmidt sealed Germany a 1-0 friendly win over the Czech Republic on Wednesday as the hosts kept a clean sheet for the first time this year.

A makeshift Germany team kept the Czechs goalless in Leipzig in a warm-up for Nations League matches at home against Ukraine on Saturday and away to Spain next Tuesday.

Germany head coach Joachim Loew opted to rest most of his first-choice stars and used the friendly behind closed doors to field effectively a reserve team.

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, one of the few of Loew’s first-choice players, captained the side before being replaced at half-time by Borussia Dortmund’s Mahmoud Dahoud.

Loew handed out two debuts with Wolfsburg’s Ridle Baku and PSV Eindhoven’s Philipp Max starting on the wings.

The 27-year-old Max played a key role in what proved to be the winning goal.

He reacted fastest to a parried save to fire in a quick cross, allowing former Freiburg forward Waldschmidt to tap home in the 13th minute for his second goal on his fifth Germany appearance.

Having tested Czech goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka with a long-range shot early on, Borussia Moenchengladbach midfielder Florian Neuhaus clattered the crossbar with 10 minutes left as Germany pushed for a second goal.

The Czech Republic lost goalkeeper Filip Nguyen and midfielder David Pavelka in the build-up after both tested positive for coronavirus and rarely tested the German defence in Leipzig.

Czech replacement Matej Vydra squandered the visitors’ best chances late on when the Burnley forward headed straight at Germany goalkeeper Kevin Trapp, then fired over moments later.

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