AMSTERDAM • Under-fire Joachim Low took the high road after Germany's last-gasp 3-2 victory over the Netherlands on Sunday, claiming he "did not see the win as an act of vindication".
The coach has been under immense pressure after the national team's annus horribilis, which saw them suffer their worst run of form in history.
Die Mannschaft signed off on the lowest possible note last year with a record six defeats, including their failure to progress to the second phase of a World Cup for the first time since 1938 and relegation from the Nations League.
Low's critics in the German media had been sharpening their knives before their opening Euro 2020 qualifier in Amsterdam, slamming his decision to ditch 2014 World Cup-winning stalwarts Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Muller as a "high-stakes gamble".
However, their tone was far more conciliatory after the unexpected win - the team's first on Dutch soil since 1996.
Hailing Low's first competitive victory of the year as "a victory for the coach", German magazine Kicker felt he had "managed to unite this young team behind him".
German daily Bild went one further, declaring he "had delivered in the first truly important game since the World Cup and showed up everyone who said he is no longer the right man for the job".
REVERSAL OF FORTUNE
Today, we had the gambling luck that we lacked in the past games.
JOACHIM LOW, Germany coach, after his side beat the Netherlands 3-2 on Sunday with a Nico Schulz goal in added time.
But while the praise marked a decisive change in tone from the unrelenting criticism since Germany's humiliating exit in Russia, Low played down the idea that he had stuck it to his critics.
The 59-year-old said post-game: "When my team play as well as they did, then I am positive, regardless of what is going on off the field."
Telling German TV channel RTL that his players "had not lost the faith", he added: "The first half was great, we had the game under complete control.
"The goal in the second half came at a very bad time. It is a process that our young team have to go through with.
"Today, we had the gambling luck that we lacked in the past games."
Wingers Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry put the away side ahead in the Group C encounter, before Ronald Koeman's men hit back after the break through defender Matthijs de Ligt and forward Memphis Depay.
However, forward Marco Reus came off the bench late on to set up defender Nico Schulz's added-time strike as Germany avenged a 3-0 Nations League thrashing in the same stadium last October.
Declaring the team "will get a lot of confidence", the match-winner said: "That feels very good. The victory is very good for us."
While German football still has much work to do to get back to the summit - there are no Bundesliga clubs in the last eight of the Champions League for the first time since 2006 - Low can at least take a breather until the next round of qualifiers against Belarus and Estonia in June.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, DPA, XINHUA