Germany exits the World Cup in first round after losing to South Korea
Germany became the fourth defending champion in the last five tournaments to be eliminated in the group stage
Kazan, Russia: Germany is out of the World Cup, the fourth defending champion in the last five tournaments to be eliminated in the group stage.
The four-time champions lost to South Korea 2-0 on Wednesday, allowing 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.
Germany ended up last in Group F while Sweden and Mexico advanced to the round of 16. South Korea was also eliminated despite the victory.
It was the first time Germany has been eliminated in the first round since 1938.
Kim Young-gwon scored the first goal in the third minute of injury time. Originally called out for offside, the goal was then given after video review.
Son Heung-min made it 2-0 in the sixth minute of injury time after Germany goalkeeper Manuel 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.
In the history of World Cup football, the defending champions have crashed out in the first round only six times, four of those have happened since the turn of the millennium: France in 2002, Italy in 2010, Spain in 2014, and Germany this year. Only Brazil, returning champions from 2002, made it past the group stage.
Meanwhile in Yekaterinburg, Sweden dominated Mexico 3-0 to move on to the World Cup knockout round. Mexico, however, will also advance despite the heavy loss, thanks to South Korea. Mexico has been to the round of 16 for seven straight World Cups.
All four teams in the group had a chance to advance in games that were being played simultaneously, but Sweden’s 3-0 lead over Mexico put Germany in prime position to move on as well—if the Germans could score against the South Koreans.
That was the problem, for Germany.
Germany made a nervous start in Kazan, playing slower than it usually does to avoid being vulnerable on the break. But the strategy did not bring much success in the first half.
The Germans kept peppering the South Korea box with harmless crosses and it was their opponents that came close to scoring from a set piece in the 19th minute after Neuer failed to control a 25-metre free kick from Jung Woo-young. The Germany keeper bobbled the ball and needed to swipe the rebound away from the attackers after a spectacular dive.
The Germans continued at the same pedestrian pace after half-time and Mesut Ozil had another poor display, with many of his passes uncompleted.
Germany coach Joachim Loew brought on substitutes Mario Gomez and Thomas Mueller on either side of the 60-minute mark but his players kept giving the ball away, with most of their attacking combinations lacking precision and speed.
Gomez had a decent header stopped by Jo in the 68th minute and could not properly connect with a low cross from Joshua Kimmich in the 72nd as Germany’s hopes vanished.
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