World Cup roundup: Defending champ Germany finishes last in Group F
Everyone was waiting for Germany to score another late World Cup-saving goal.
It never came.
Instead, the Germans have become the fourth defending champions in the last five tournaments to be eliminated in the group stage following a 2-0 loss to South Korea on Wednesday.
The four-time champions allowed a pair of injury-time goals while knowing a 1-0 victory would have been enough to advance because of the result in the other group match.
“It’s very, very hard to put it into words,” said Germany defender Mats Hummels, a member of the team that won in Brazil four years ago. “We believed until the end today. Even when it was 0-1, I think we kept trying to turn it all around.”
Germany ended up last in Group F. Sweden and Mexico advanced to the round of 16. South Korea was also eliminated despite the victory.
It was the first time Germany was knocked out in the first round since 1938, though the team was not allowed to enter the 1950 tournament.
“It’s a dark day for German football,” Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said.
Even in Yekaterinburg, nearly 500 miles away, the Mexican fans expected Germany to score. They were still in position to advance despite trailing Sweden, but they were waiting — some with tears in their eyes — for Germany to do the inevitable and ruin their chances of moving on.
That’s when South Korea stepped up.
Kim Young-gwon scored the first goal in the third minute of injury time, a goal that sent the Koreans cheering in Kazan and the Mexicans delirious in Yekaterinburg. Originally called out for offside, the goal was given after video review.
Son Heung-min made it 2-0 in the sixth minute of stoppage time after Neuer came up the field to help his teammates outside the South Korea box. Son tapped the ball into an empty net after a long pass from Ju Se-jong.
Besides Germany this year, France in 2002, Italy in ‘10 and Spain in ‘14 were the previous defending champions to get eliminated in the group stage.
“We deserved to be eliminated,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said. “For us, this is a huge disappointment. But we have young players who are talented and have the potential to go forward. It happened to other nations before. We need to draw the right conclusions.”
Sweden 3, Mexico 0 — Sweden was so dominant against Mexico that the best Mexican plays of the night were made 600 miles away by South Koreans.
The Swedes rolled and were never challenged in the second half, overtaking Mexico to win Group F just four nights after a gut-wrenching last-minute loss to Germany.
Sweden makes its first appearance in the knockout stage since 2006. Mexico plays in the round of 16 for the seventh consecutive World Cup, with its fans desperate for its first quarterfinal appearance in 32 years — the elusive “quinto partido,” or fifth game.
Sweden didn’t want to focus on getting revenge by helping eliminate Germany, which got some favorable calls in a tense 2-1 victory over the Swedes on Saturday night.
“We grew another little bit,” Sweden coach Janne Andersson said. “I am not going to sit here and gloat having won a match or boast about a win. We don’t want to stir things up too much.”
Ludwig Augustinsson volleyed a left-footed shot past goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa from close range five minutes into the second half, and captain Andreas Granqvist converted a penalty kick to help Sweden take control.
Mexico’s Edson Alvarez had an own goal in the 74th minute to put the game out of reach.
Brazil 2, Serbia 0 — Worried no more, Brazil is through at the World Cup.
Paulinho and Thiago Silva scored a goal each to give the five-time champions a victory over Serbia and first place in their group.
Brazil struggled in its opening two matches, first held to a 1-1 draw and then needing late goals to win the other, but it controlled this one.
Paulinho gave his team the lead when he met a lofted ball from Philippe Coutinho in the 36th minute. The defensive midfielder let the ball bounce in front of him near the penalty spot and kicked his right leg in the air to tap it over the goalkeeper’s fingertips.
Silva later scored with a powerful header in the 68th from Neymar’s corner.
Brazil finished first in Group E and will next face Mexico in the round of 16 on Monday in Samara. Serbia was eliminated, finishing third in the group behind Switzerland.
Switzerland 2, Costa Rica 2 — Switzerland was hoping for a drama-free route into the last 16. It didn’t get it.
Switzerland qualified alongside Group E winner Brazil despite twice losing the lead in a riveting draw with Costa Rica.
The game ended with a stoppage-time equalizer as Costa Rican captain Bryan Ruiz’s penalty kick hit the crossbar, then bounced off of goalkeeper Yann Sommer’s head and into the goal. The Costa Ricans already were eliminated from the tournament but wanted to make sure they weren’t the only team to leave Russia without a goal.
Although the draw didn’t affect Switzerland’s progression, captain Stephan Lichtsteiner and fellow defender Fabian Schaer each picked up their second yellow cards of the tournament, meaning they will both be suspended for the knockout game against Group F winner Sweden on Tuesday.