ST. GALLEN, Switzerland (AP)Germany showed little sign of a fresh start under new coach Hansi Flick as it labored to a 2-0 win over Liechtenstein in their World Cup qualifier on Thursday.
Goals in each half from Timo Werner and Leroy Sane gave Germany its third win in four qualifying games in Group J, but there were few highlights in its first match under Flick, who has been charged with revitalizing the team after 15 years under his predecessor Joachim Low.
Low stepped down after the European Championship amid hopes of a bright new era under Flick, the former Bayern Munich coach.
Flick started with an unfamiliar lineup, though injuries played a role with Bernd Leno in goal for Manuel Neuer (ankle injury) and the 18-year-old Jamal Musiala on the right of midfield for Thomas Muller (thigh injury). Flick also started with Wolfsburg’s Ridle Baku at right back with Paris Saint-Germain’s Thilo Kehrer beside him in central defense.
The 26-year-old Joshua Kimmich was captain in his 60th appearance for Germany, and he had the game’s first chance, stopped by Benjamin Buchel. The Liechtenstein goalkeeper saved from Werner shortly afterward and Robin Gosens struck the post in the 19th before the German team appeared to run out of ideas.
Aron Sele earned the home fans’ applause for trying a volley from distance in a rare Lichtenstein attempt.
Musiala created the opening goal when he played Werner through in the 41st, and Germany missed further chances to build on the lead before Sane finally sealed the result in the 77th.
Armenia still tops the group despite being held to a 0-0 draw at North Macedonia, while Romania beat Iceland 2-0 away thanks to second-half goals from Dennis Man and Nicolae Stanciu. It was Iceland’s first game since the team was rocked by a series of sex abuse scandals that saw the country’s entire soccer association board resign after it was accused of covering up assault allegations.
Germany next plays Armenia in Stuttgart on Sunday, before playing Iceland in Reykjavik on Sept. 8.
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