World Cup wrap, Day 14: Germany suffers shameful exit after South Korea defeat
Story of the day
Germany is out. Gone. Kaput. Auf wiedersehen.
For the first time in 80 years, Die Mannschaft has crashed out in the opening round of a World Cup after suffering a 2-0 defeat to South Korea – and finishing bottom of Group F in the process. The goals came late; the first in the 92nd minute from Kim Young-gwon which was initially ruled out for offside before being awarded by VAR. Then it got desperate. Manuel Neuer, so often lauded for his sweeper-keeper antics, lost possession in the South Korea half and suffered the consequences. Ju Se-jong launched the ball forward, where Son Heung-min was on hand to tap into an empty net.
Germany hasn't finished lower than third in its last four World Cups. This just doesn't happen to them. As coach Joachim Low sighed post-match: "This is something for us to reckon with. This is historic. I am sure this will create some public uproar in Germany."
We're sure it will.
Today in 30 seconds
While Germany's unruly implosion was taking place, Sweden was dismantling Mexico in Ekaterinburg. The latter had won its first two matches convincingly, yet somehow was staring an early exit in the face – if Germany had scored, El Tri were goners. The 2014 winners didn't, though, and Juan Carlos Osorio's swashbuckling team will face Brazil in the last 16. Goals from Ludwig Augustinsson, Andreas Granqvist and a hapless own goal from Edson Alvarez did the damage for Sweden on a memorable afternoon when the Scandinavians ran riot. Mexico will need to buck up for the knockouts.
Brazil wins Group E on goal difference after beating Serbia 2-0 in Moscow, the strikes coming from Paulinho and Thiago Silva either side of half-time. Tite's side wasn't hugely impressive but sharp when it mattered most, unlikely their rivals who should have done more to trouble the 2002 champions. Brazil will face Mexico in the last 16, where it will be joined by Switzerland – a 2-2 draw for them against Costa Rica means the Europeans advance safely.
There was some late drama in that game, though: moments after Costa Rica was denied one penalty by VAR (which was originally awarded), it got another – and scored after the ball cannoned back off the crossbar, onto Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer and in. Lucky.
Play of the day
Magic man Philippe Coutinho and his lovely ball over the top of Serbia's defense which set up Paulinho for Brazil's opening goal. His team-mate barely needed to break stride before knocking the ball beyond goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic. This was just the latest decisive contribution from the Seleção No.11 who has a strong case to be considered the player of the tournament so far. Brazil might not have impressed majorly in any of its matches so far, but Coutinho has every time.
Man of the moment
A round of applause, please, for Sweden coach Janne Andersson. It's fair to say that hopes were fairly low for the Blågult going into Russia 2018 – even after beating Italy in a play-off to get here – but this team has outperformed all expectations so far. Just getting through the group would have been considered a huge success, but Sweden has gone one better to top it and earn a meeting with Switzerland in the last 16.
Surprise of the tournament so far? It's hard to argue against. They were efficient against South Korea; unfortunate against Germany; and ruthless in devouring Mexico. Well done them.
The wacky and weird
We need to talk about Manuel Neuer.
In fairness, the Bayern Munich shot-stopper has built up plenty of credit over the years, in large part because of his outfield ability. The 32-year-old is often seen marauding out of his penalty area to intercept possession and snuff out danger – it's part of what makes him so good.
But when it goes wrong, it really goes wrong. When Neuer trotted out to join his toiling team-mates in injury-time against South Korea, Germany was 1-0 down and heading home anyway. They needed to win. Perhaps giving him the ball from an attacking throw-in was unwise, though; his first touch was horrible, gifting possession to Ju who hammered the ball upfield for goal No.2.
"I've got to say that it bordered on embarrassment because this is not how German football has been represented over the last four or five decades," huffed former midfielder Dietmar Hamann post-match. Oh dear.
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