We ended our German training camp by drawing 1-1 with FC Nurnberg at the Max Morlock Stadium as our pre-season preparations continue to build.
Bukayo Saka fizzed in an early strike to hand us the advantage at the break, and the interval saw Mikel Arteta freshen up his line-up to build fitness levels throughout the squad, including handing a debut to Kai Havertz.
Despite creating plenty of other good opportunities throughout the second 45, we couldn’t add to our tally and a freak own goal from Jorginho just after the hour mark ensured that the hosts managed to earn a share of the spoils.
Saka starts in style
A late change to our starting XI saw Fabio Vieira replace Martin Odegaard in the starting line-up after our skipper picked up a slight knock in the warm-up, but that disruption didn’t affect us as we took the lead just eight minutes in.
Ben White clipped a pass down the right flank for Saka, and he used pace, power and tricky to force his way into the area despite Tim Handwerker’s efforts, and after shifting the ball onto his left foot, he unleashed a powerful shot that flew into the bottom corner past a helpless Christian Mathenia.
The opening 45 minutes saw us camped in the German opposition’s half, but opportunities to double our lead were few and far between. Reiss Nelson forced a corner with a deflected strike that needed tipping over the crossbar by Mathenia, and when the set piece was cleared into his path, he narrowly missed the target from the edge of the box - a similar fate that befell Thomas Partey not long after.
Meanwhile having last been seen netting a hat-trick for England against North Macedonia during the summer, Bukayo was showing no signs of rustiness and he had another blast at goal on 22 minutes after good hold-up play by Eddie Nketiah but this time Mathenia managed to get enough behind the strike.
Bizarre own goal levels it
With fitness levels very much in their infancy a week into pre-season, it was unsurprising that proceedings began to fizzle out towards the end of the first half, and at the break Arteta handed out opportunities for others to get some useful gametime under their belts, including recent recruit Havertz back in his homeland.
Those changes soon saw chances open up again. Gabriel Jesus beat the offside trap but screwed wide when finding himself one-on-one with Mathenia, and Cedric bent a shot just off target from inside the box after Vieira’s reverse pass.
We then struck the woodwork on the hour mark after Havertz’s first major involvement saw him win the ball high up the pitch and lay it off to Gabriel Jesus, and he unselfishly picked out Folarin Balogun who after putting replacement keeper Carl Klaus on the ground, struck the post from a tight angle.
But seconds later we somehow found ourselves level again, despite nothing in the way of goalmouth threat from the hosts. A loose pass by half-time introduction Karl Hein put Jorginho under pressure, and in trying to keep the ball away from Kanji Okunuki, the Italian international inadvertently diverted back past our Estonian keeper and into the net from all of 35 yards out.
Balogun nearly wins it
The hosts, having made numerous alterations themselves, came to life after that mishap and we could have easily slipped behind 11 minutes later when an audacious but powerful shot from even further out by Ali Loune forced Hein to parry into the path of Christoph Daferner, who volleyed onto the crossbar.
Daferner again caused us issues with five minutes remaining when he was given a sight of goal by Benjamin Goller but an excellent sliding block by Auston Trusty in his first outing in our colours snuffed out the chance, before Jens Castrop wasted a good chance from inside the box by blasting wide as Nurnberg ended strongly.
But there was one more golden chance for us to win the game in the final minute when Balogun was sent through on goal by Myles Lewis-Skelly and did brilliantly to beat the offside trap and once again round Klaus, however despite looking destined to score, he struck the side-netting.
We head to the USA for our pre-season tour, where we’ll take on the MLS All-Stars in Washington DC on Thursday (1.30am UK time) before heading to New Jersey to face Manchester United on Saturday, July 22 (10pm UK time).
We round off our trip with a game against Barcelona in Los Angeles on Thursday, July 27 (3.30am UK time), before an Emirates Cup meeting with Monaco in north London the following week - find out how you can stream our pre-season matches
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