It turned out Germany did have a No 9, after all. His name is Niclas Füllkrug, he plays for Werder Bremen, he is 29 years old, 11 days into his international career, and when it mattered most he was there for them: coming on to give his country hope of staying in the World Cup. With just seven minutes to go in just his third game, he thumped a rising shot beyond Unai Simón to level the score, and offer them a lifeline, immediately running to the touchline and into the arms of Hansi Flick, relief all round.
If some of the jeopardy had been taken from this occasion six hours earlier, Costa Rica’s surprise victory over Japan meaning that Germany took a slight, uneasy step back from the edge of the abyss, this was still a dramatic moment and one that changes everything. Füllkrug’s goal gives the Mannschaft a footing at this tournament. They will have to defeat Costa Rica and even then their fate remains in Japan’s hands – and in Spain’s – but there is hope now. It could have been so much worse. It is not yet done for Spain yet either, although Luis Enrique noted that they still lead the group of death.