MOSCOW — The unthinkable has happened — Germany, reigning world champions, the consummate tournament team, are out of the World Cup at the group stage.
Their failure to beat South Korea yesterday, combined with Sweden’s comfortable win over Mexico, saw Joachim Low’s men exit Russia at the first hurdle — their first World Cup elimination at this point for 80 years.
Sweden won the group by beating Mexico 3-0 in the other match taking place at the same time, meaning Germany needed to defeat South Korea to get through in second place.
However, South Korea won 2-0 thanks to two goals in second half stoppage time as Germany desperately pushed forwards to try and find a winner.
Kim-Young Gwon tapped in from close range when an error by Toni Kroos played him onside, with the goal eventually awarded by VAR.
Tottenham forward Son-Heung Min then slotted into an empty goal after chasing down a long punt, with Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer having raced up the field to try and get on the end of a corner.
Germany had earlier missed several great chances to score, Timo Werner firing wide and Mats Hummels heading wide from six yards.
Hope rippled through the Germany fans when the fourth official held up the board for siix minutes of added time but it was South Korea who made it county.
There were tears on the pitch from the Germany players at the final whistle, while in Ekaterinburg the Mexican and Swedish fans partied together.
Many other football fans reacted with glee to the news, posting memes to Twitter with a German farewell of “Auf Wiedersehen”, while the official national team account admitted they were “speechless”.
Mexico will now play the winner of Group E while Sweden will take on whoever comes second; and the Germans will now simply have to pack their bags.
The champions are out. And they did not deserve anything else.
As for Sweden, what a response. From the desolation of a last-minute defeat by Germany, they demonstrated spirit and courage themselves from the canvas and catapult themselves to the top of Group F.
Janne Anderson’s side are a formidable team and no side in this competition will look forward to a knockout match against a team that defend so robustly and counter-attack with precision and purpose.
From the very start of this contest, the Swedes seemed the more capable side. They rapidly uncovered the Mexican weakness at defending set-pieces.
The Swedish breakthrough came in the 50th minute, when Berg miscued an effort and full-back Ludwig Augustinsson rifled into the goal.
Having lost the initiative, confidence disappeared from this Mexico team like water down a drain. They lost possession once more and Forsberg swept a curling strike over on another counter-raid. It felt a potentially pivotal miss but that was to overestimate the Mexican powers of recovery.
They were by now shot to pieces. Another speedy break saw Berg free in the area and Hector Moreno’s sliding tackle was misjudged. Granqvist smashed home the penalty.
Sweden sealed victory with the simplest of goals, as a long-throw was flicked on and Mexico’s Edson Alvarez contrived to turn the ball into his own goal