Soccer

Italy draws 1-1 against Germany in friendly

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MILAN (AP)

Ignazio Abate scored his first senior international goal as Italy came from behind to draw 1-1 against Germany in a friendly at San Siro on Friday.

Germany took the lead in the eighth minute when Mats Hummels headed a corner in off the post, but Abate leveled in the 28th minute.

Germany also hit the woodwork twice in an entertaining first half and Benedikt Hoewedes saw an effort crash off the post as the visitors went close to snatching a win in stoppage time.

''We knew it wouldn't be a friendly,'' said Germany coach Joachim Loew, who was celebrating his 100th match in charge. ''Both teams played a very intense, aggressive match for the whole 90 minutes. We played well, we managed dangerous situations well and we had a good game in attack too, especially against a well-organized Italian defense.

''This 100 is an important number but it will also be important when I get to number 120 and others and I hope we can celebrate those matches with wins. We wanted to come here and give a signal against a strong side like Italy and I think we did that. With a bit of luck at the end we could have even won.''

Italy has not lost to Germany since 1995 and won 2-1 the last time the two sides met, with Mario Balotelli scoring twice in the 2012 European Championship semifinals. However, Cesare Prandelli's team had won only one friendly over the past two years - against footballing minnow San Marino.

''There are games that you can suffer in at times, like you saw today but we played well and had good chances,'' Prandelli said. ''You have to remember too that we were playing one of the strongest teams in the world. We're a good team and if we have a lot of humility we can have great games and do something important in Brazil. But if we think we can dominate in every game then we're heading down the wrong path.

''We can't go to Brazil thinking we can win the World Cup. We might be able to do something but we have to have humility. We're not one of the strongest teams in the world, but we can put the strongest teams in difficulty.''

Balotelli has come in for some criticism of late and he started the game like a man with a point to prove. He fired a speculative shot wide of the right upright in the opening minute, before winning a free kick which specialist Andrea Pirlo drove narrowly over the crossbar.

''Mario had a good performance today against the strongest defenders in the world,'' Prandelli added. ''He fought and he ran and he created some opportunities too.

''I think he had a great game. I congratulated him but he wasn't happy because he didn't score a goal.''

But Germany took the lead against the run of play with its first real attack, when Hummels' header rebounded off the left upright and over the prone Gianluigi Buffon before crossing the line.

Hoewedes almost doubled Germany's lead two minutes later but he headed a corner narrowly past the right upright.

Italy appeared deflated after conceding and Germany again went close in the 17th minute when Sami Khedira's fierce shot seemed to catch everyone by surprise but crashed off the left upright. The ball rebounded off the back of Buffon's head but this time went out of play, much to the goalkeeper's relief.

Italy had not lost at home to Germany in 28 years and it leveled when Abate played a delightful one-two in the box with Leonardo Bonucci before curling a strike into the bottom right corner for his first goal in 17 matches for the senior side.

Germany almost immediately restored its lead as Andre Schurrle pounced on poor clearance but his dipping effort crashed off the crossbar.

Italy was controlling the game and Germany struggled to get a sight on goal. But that changed when Pirlo was substituted with eight minutes remaining, going off to a standing ovation from the San Siro crowd.

Germany almost won the match with the last kick of the game. Hoewedes hit the post and Marco Reus and Sven Bender clattered into each other in their attempt to follow up.

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