World Cup wrap, Day 10: Germany saves its skin with 95th-minute winner
Story of the day
Oh, Germany: how do you do it? Joachim Low's reigning champions were staring at a group exit for the first time in their World Cup history after Sweden pulled out a dogged performance and looked like claiming a 1-1 draw in Sochi. But in the 95th minute came Toni Kroos's inspired moment of magic which stole three points for Die Mannschaft and keeps its last-16 hopes alive.
Up until then, the 10-man Germans – the hapless Jerome Boateng was sent off late on – were on the brink of early elimination. Ola Toivonen's glorious chip had been cancelled out by Marco Reus's equalizer three minutes into the second half, but it wouldn't have been enough to avoid a nervous final game where Mexico and Sweden could have drawn to send both nations through.
Now it's game on.
Today in 30 seconds
Belgium is through to the last 16 after hammering a hapless Tunisia in Moscow. Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku both struck two goals each in a ferocious attacking display that should have produced even more goals, but in the end, Roberto Martinez's side had to settle for just the five after substitute Michy Batshuayi rounded off the scoring in injury time. Batshuayi himself, only on for 22 minutes, could have legitimately scored four.
There was a second win for Mexico too, which dumped South Korea out of the competition thanks to goals either side of half-time from Carlos Vela (penalty) and Chicharito. Son Heung-min fired in a brilliant consolation in injury time, but it won't stop the Koreans from being pelted by sweets when they head home – the traditional homecoming for underperforming teams.
Play of the day
Hazard's second goal – Belgium's fourth against Tunisia – was a delight. Center-back Toby Alderweireld showed wonderful vision to take out the whole of his opponents' team and pick out Hazard with a glorious long ball in between defenders, but there was still a lot for the Red Devils' captain to do. His first touch cushioned the ball beautifully on his chest, the second knocked it beyond goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha and, after keeping his cool, his third rippled the back of the net. Lovely.
Man of the moment
Toni Kroos, come on down. Ola Toivonen's glorious chip should have been the goal of this game, but it wasn't. Kroos gets to take that prize thanks to his astonishing free-kick routine from an acute angle which may have just saved Germany's entire World Cup campaign. He'd had a horrible tournament up to that point, but his class prevailed for this part – and oh, what a time to get it done.
The wacky and weird
There have already been more penalties awarded at World Cup 2018 than in Brazil four years ago – 14, after Mexico's against South Korea which helped El Tri open the scoring. (The overall record, if you're interested, is 18 – set in 1990, 1998 and 2002). VAR has been responsible for five of them this summer, meaning the technology has played its part in over a third of spot-kicks. Like it or loathe it, it's making a big impact in Russia.
For the record, 45% of the 29 matches so far have featured a penalty. The previous, post-1966 high came in 1978 – just 29%. V-A-R!
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