Germany survived an almighty scare to keep their World Cup hopes alive, beating Sweden 2-1 having trailed at half-time, thanks to Toni Kroos’s strike in added time. Defeat would have meant elimination but now, with South Korea their final opponents, Joachim Löw’s side will be confident of making the knockout stage.
Sweden took the lead through Ola Toivonen in the 31st minute. Germany lost possession in midfield, Kroos the guilty party, and Sweden attacked down the right. Viktor Claesson picked out Toivonen with a lovely cross and the striker took the ball on his chest and then lobbed it superbly over the onrushing Manuel Neuer with his right foot.
Germany, who had had to replace Sebastian Rudy with Ilkay Gündogan as a result of an accidental clash with Toivonen, were stunned and it could easily have been worse by half-time. In added time, Larsson whipped in a free-kick and Berg glanced a header towards the far corner, only for Neuer to turn it aside.
Sweden were rocked for a moment and Kroos quickly had a deflected shot spin wide. But the game soon became even again.
Boateng was then booked twice in quick succession, the second in confusing circumstances after the referee initially seemed to have decided not to show a yellow.
The 10 men did their best but it looked as if they could not find a way past Olsen, with Julian Brandt’s strike against the post in added time.
But then, with the five minutes of stoppages all but up, a free-kick was taken by Kroos and touched back to him and he curled in a stunning shot.
Germany have a huge task ahead of them and it is likely the rest of the world will be rooting for Sweden, who have not beaten Germany in 40 years. Sweden will certainly have to cope with an onslaught of attacks but will know that, if it stays like this, they will seal their place in the last 16.
A fantastic first half of football and Sweden have left a massive dent in the armour of the defending champions. Germany have been poor once again and have been made to pay for it. Toivonen’s superbly taken goal has left Low’s side on the edge of a premature exit from the World Cup.
Germany equalise! Werner, on the left, drives into space and cuts the ball into the middle. Reus gets in front of Augustinsson and diverts home.
No -one can take anything for granted at this FIFA World Cup, not even the reigning champions. Shocked by a skilful, combative Mexico side last time out, Germany – who dazzled en route to winning last year’s FIFA Confederations Cup with a youthful side – have it all to do.
Sweden promise to pose another stern test and Die Mannschaft will have to display more creativity and be less predictable going forward if they are to get back on track. The Mexicans can further turn up the heat on Joachim Low’s team if they back up their opening victory by overcoming Korea Republic earlier on Saturday.
Having kicked off their own campaign with a win against the Taeguk Warriors, the Swedes will feel confident going into this encounter against opposition that they know inside out. Moreover, with the pressure sure to be firmly on the Germans’ shoulders, the Scandinavians should be able to play with freedom.
Criticism rained down on Germany after their stuttering start and the players were the first to hold up their hands and admit that they have to up their game. The team have looked extremely focused and determined since arriving in Sochi. Joachim Low is not the sort for radical changes and so is likely to only make a few tweaks against Sweden.
When they arrived for this World Cup, Sweden did not expect much from this match against Germany. However, going top of the group by defeating Korea Republic, having first seen the world champions stumble against Mexico, has given them new hope ahead of this encounter. The Swedes will be banking on the defensive solidity that has helped them go unbeaten in World Cup group action since 1990.
Mexico have followed up their victory against Germany by beating South Korea 2-1 in Rostov, a result that piles further pressure on the world champions. If Germany lose to Sweden in the evening’s Group F game at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi then Joachim Löw’s side will be out.
South Korea’s slim hopes of qualification hang on Germany beating Sweden and then losing to the Koreans themselves.
Mexico took the lead in the 26th minute from the penalty spot, after Jang Hyun-soo was penalised for handball when he went to ground to intercept a cross. Carlos Vela made no mistake from the spot, sending Cho Hyun-woo the wrong way.
Javier Hernández scored the second after 66 minutes, finishing off a rapid break. Son Heung-min scored a fine curler in added time but it was too late.
Group E concludes on Wednesday, when Mexico play Sweden in Ekaterinburg and Germany play South Korea in Kazan.
Mexico aren’t able to press from the set-piece but a moment later, Moreno intercepts and cuts his way through the Korean defence to the opposition box. He plays a throughball in for Lozano; Kim Young-gwon gets in the way of the attacking midfielder’s shot.
This is thrilling, end-to-end stuff. Lee Jae-sung sees a powerful effort blocked by Salcedo at one end; down the other, Vela curls a dipping ball just over the crossbar from 18 yards out. There’s definitely the sense that a goal is coming in Rostov-on-Don.
Lee Yong becomes the second man to see yellow in this match as he comes in heavy on Lozano in midfield. South Korea look like they are about to make a change.
Indeed, Lee Seung-Woo is introduced off the bench in place of Ju to give the midfield some added pace.
South Korea can’t force a chance though; from the set-piece, Ki brings down Hernandez challenging for the ball and concedes a free-kick. It’s been a little bit on the scruffy side so far in Rostov-on-Don.
Three chances for Son! A misplaced pass from Guardado gives South Korea a counter-attack spearheaded by the Tottenham man, who sees two close-range efforts on the right blocked by Salcedo and Moreno before a third shot from the edge of the box skews wide for a corner off the former.
The captain heads from distance off the corner and Ochoa tips it over the bar. A second corner now, but this one is cleared with ease by Moreno and Mexico break away downfield at pace.
Penalty to Mexico! Jang Hyun-soo hand balls a cross in from Lozano on the back of a near-miss at the left post by Hernandez and the referee points straight to the spot. A golden chance for Vela to take the lead for his country as he steps up…
Mexico will have the chance to become the first side in Group F of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia to reach the knockout phase. To do that they need to beat Korea Republic in Rostov-on-Don and then hope Germany fail to collect three points against Sweden in Sochi.
ElTri are brimming with confidence after their stunning defeat of the Germans in their opening match, an occasion on which they showed their cutting edge up front and their solidity at the back, which has allowed them go without conceding in six of their last eight matches. Though the onus will be on the Mexicans to dictate the pace this time, they have a fine World Cup record against Asian sides, with three wins out of three, including a 3-1 defeat of Korea Republic at France 1998.
Korea Republic need a confidence boost of their own, having gone goalless in their last three games – including a disappointing attacking display against Sweden – and winless in their last seven world finals matches. They will have to put those unwanted records out of their minds, however, if they are to progress.
The loss to Sweden has left the Taeguk Warriors facing a major test against a formidable Mexico side. Coach Shin Taeyong is expected to revamp his frontline after it failed to have a single shot on target against the Swedes. In defence Kim Minwoo and Hong Chul are vying to replace the injured Park Jooho at left-back.
Mexico’s task will be to maintain the good vibrations generated by their victory over the Germans. Juan Carlos Osorio’s charges have stressed that the defeat of the holders is nothing more than a first step and that they will be showing the utmost respect to their Asian opponents. El Tri have three precious points to play for and are anxious not to pass up the opportunity to take a giant step towards the next round.
Belgium are on the verge of qualifying for the last 16 of the World Cup after a 5-2 win over Tunisia at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow that leaves the north African side on the brink of elimination. Unless Panama beat England in Sunday’s Group G match, Belgium will be through with a game to spare while Tunisia will be out. England, meanwhile, would seal their own qualification for the last 16 by beating Panama.
Belgium took the lead inside six minutes, Eden Hazard converting a penalty after he had been brought down by Syam Ben Youssef. VAR was used, confirming that the challenge was illegal and that it had taken place just inside the penalty area.
Hazard scored his second six minutes into the second half and Michy Batshuayi made it 5-1 late on, before Wahbi Khazri scored Tunisia’s second consolation
Group G concludes on Thursday, with England playing Belgium in Kaliningrad and Tunisia facing playing Panama at Mordovia Arena in Saransk.
Tunisia lost two men to injury in that first half, and with just one substitute left, they may find that tiring legs struggle in the latter stages of the second half. Belgium, however, simply need to maintain their level of quality and could find themselves racking up a few more here, and may look to send out a statement of intent going forward.
Belgium were 2-0 up after just 16 minutes following a Hazard penalty and an emphatic Lukaku strike, but Tunisia got themselves back into the game out of nowhere just two minutes later, with Bronn glancing Khazri’s superb free-kick into the net with his side’s first shot of the game! Chances were plentiful as both sides showed positivity in an open encounter, and Lukaku struck again on the stroke of half-time, lifting the ball over the goalkeeper from close range to restore his side’s two-goal advantage.
Tunisia have started strongly in this half as Badri works some space off the left and drills a low effort at goal that Courtois holds well.
Hazard grabs his second in style, chesting down from a long ball as his run split the two centre-halves, before poking round the onrushing goalkeeper and firing into an empty net!! Great compsure there from Hazard.