Kroos' stoppage time winner against Sweden prevents humiliating Germany exit
Germany 2 (Reus 48′, Kroos 95′)
Sweden 1 (Toivonen 32′)
By Jesse Kemp-Segedin
Midfielder Toni Kroos has helped 10-men Germany pull off a dramatic final-minute win to stay alive in the 2018 World Cup.
After Germany’s shock opening game loss to Mexico, a loss or draw in this fixture for the defending champions would see them crash out in the group stages.
With the scores locked at 1-1 deep into stoppage time, German forward Timo Werner drew a foul on the left edge of the penalty area.
Up stepped Kroos who played a sharp one-two with Marco Reus and then curled the ball beyond the keeper’s reach into the top right corner to make it 2-1 and keep the defending champions’ title defence alive.
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It was a game that had everything with red cards, great goals and more video assistant referee (VAR) drama.
Early dominance from the Germans saw them complete 122 passes to Sweden’s six in the opening 10 minutes as they tried to break down a resolute Swedish defence.
Despite the dominance, it was Sweden who scored first when Ola Toivonen was on the end of a swift counter-attack stemming from a wayward Kroos pass.
Viktor Claessen’s perfectly-weighted cross found Toivonen who brought the ball down and then lobbed German keeper Manuel Neuer to give the Swedes an unlikely lead.
The goal again underlined Germany’s vulnerability to counter-attacking football in this World Cup which they will have to address if they hope to progress further in the competition
Both Mexico and Sweden have found it relatively easy to create meaningful opportunities against a side that is usually known for its solid defensive structures.
The controversial VAR system was once again under the spotlight when Marcus Berg was brought down in the box early in the first half.
The Swedish forward was in on-goal before German centre back Jerome Boateng intervened allowing goalkeeper Neuer to make the save.
The referee Szymon Sokolnicki waved the Swedish appeals away and the incident was not reviewed despite subsequent replays showing Boateng may well have committed a foul in the area.
Germany went to the break 1-0 down despite having 73 per cent of possession.
This dominance finally came to fruition for Germany within minutes of resuming play, with Timo Werner’s cross finding Marco Reus who turned the bouncing ball in with his left knee on the edge of the six-yard box.
The scores stayed level deep into the second half but a draw would not be enough for the Germans to stay alive in the competition.
The situation looked even worse in the 81st minute when a rash challenge by Jerome Boateng – who had already been booked – saw the German defender receive a second yellow card and his marching orders from the referee.
Boateng became just the seventh German player to be sent off at a World Cup, leaving his side a man down and still in desperate need of a second goal.
Luckily for Germany Kroos provided, and a win against their final Group F opponents South Korea will see them with a strong chance to progress to the knockout stages providing Sweden doesn’t upset Mexico in its final match.
Final Group F Fixtures
Mexico vs Sweden 12:00 am AEST 28/6
South Korea vs Germany 12:00 am AEST 28/6
Shots on Target:
Germany: 1 Neuer, 3 Hector (87′), 7 Draxler (45′), 8 Kroos, 9 Werner, 11 Reus, 13 Muller, 16 Rudiger, 17 Boateng, 18 Kimmich, 19 Rudy (31′).
Substitutes: 2, Plattenhardt, 4 Ginter, 5 Hummels, 6 Khedira, 10 Ozil, 12 Trapp, 14 Goretzka, 15 Sule, 20 Brandt (87′), 21 Gundogan (31′), 22 Ter Stegen, 23 Gomez (45′).
Sweden: 1 Olsen, 2 Lustig, 3 Lindelof, 4 Granqvist, 6 Augustinsson, 7 Larsson, 8 Ekdal, 9 Berg (90′), 10 Forsberg, 17 Claesson (74′), 20 Toivonen (78′).
Substitutes: 5 Olsson, 11 Guidetti (78′), 12 Johnsson, 13 Svensson, 14 Helander, 15 Hiljemark, 16 Krafth, 18 Jansson, 19 Rohden, 21 Durmaz (74′), 22 Kiese Thelin (90′), 23 Norfeldt.