International Friendly: Italy 1 Germany 1
By Football News
Germany's 18-year winless run against Italy continued on Friday as they were held to a 1-1 draw at San Siro.
The visitors looked on course to end that barren run at the seventh attempt before Cesare Prandelli's men came from behind to extend their unbeaten streak in the Milan stadium to 40 games.
Joachim Low's 100th match as Germany coach got off to a perfect start as Mats Hummels headed in Toni Kroos' pin-point corner in the first 10 minutes.
Italy levelled just before the 30th minute, though, as Ignazio Abate and Leonardo Bonucci linked up impressively inside the area, with the Juventus man picking up an assist courtesy of an audacious flicked pass.
The home side improved after the break but were almost stunned by a late Benedikt Howedes strike that crashed off the post.
Both coaches named strong teams as Mario Balotelli was picked to lead the line for Italy, while Mario Gotze started the match as the most advanced player for Germany in a false nine role.
Philipp Lahm insisted revenge for their Euro 2012 semi-final defeat against Italy was not on Germany's mind, but they certainly proved a point with a dominant opening 25 minutes.
Their use of the ball was impressive in the early stages and they took an eighth-minute lead as Hummels headed Kroos' corner in off the post, while Marcell Jansen nodded a similar delivery just wide two minutes later.
Despite the superiority of Low's side, Italy drew level in the 28th minute as Abate played a one-two with Bonucci before firing low past Manuel Neuer.
Andre Schurrle went close to restoring the visitors' lead just after the half-hour mark, but his volleyed effort from 25 yards struck the crossbar and went over.
Italy showed more urgency at the start of the second half and created a good chance in the 51st minute as Andrea Pirlo fed Claudio Marchisio into the area, but his left-footed shot was palmed away by Neuer.
Riccardo Montolivo was the next to go close for Prandelli's men, but after Domenico Criscito's low cross was cut out, the Milan midfielder pounced only to have his close-range effort blocked by Jerome Boateng.
With Italy generally in control, Low made the decision to introduce Mesut Ozil and Marco Reus from the bench just past the hour, but they struggled to make an impact against the hosts' resolute backline.
Thiago Motta was lucky to escape a red card in the final 10 minutes after striking Kroos on the nose in retaliation for a foul.
And with the last kick of the match, centre-back Howedes fired a powerful effort against the post that bounced to safety.