Toni Kroos clinches last-minute victory
Sweden had taken the lead through excellent Ola Toivonen goal
Marco Reus hit back after the break amid German dominance
The atmosphere at Fisht Stadium in Sochi was raucous and intense on Saturday as Germany and Sweden went toe-to-toe in a Group F match that more than lived up to expectations. Keeping supporters on the edge of their seat until the dying seconds, Toni Kroos’s incredible free-kick secured all three points for the reigning world champions with a 2-1 victory.
The game started as it would go on: Germany attacked Robin Olsen’s goal with abandon, but the Swedish rearguard stood firm. However, like against Mexico, the counter-attacking sucker punch was their downfall. Having already threatened, Ola Toivonen found a way past the imposing Manuel Neuer with a fantastic lob just after the half-hour mark.
Low rallied his troops and sent on Mario Gomez at half-time to bolster the German front line, but it was the irrepressible Marco Reus who conjured up an equaliser, the ball bouncing in off his knee. Despite enjoying the lion’s share of possession, Germany continued to squander chances, with Gomez missing the most clear-cut opportunity.
Jerome Boateng’s sending-off for a second yellow card in the 82nd minute hardly improved matters for Germany, nor did Olsen’s stunning reflex saves or a Julian Brandt shot that came back off the post. However, the Blagult No1 could do nothing about Kroos’ stoppage-time winner, which flew past him like a rocket and put an end to his team’s hopes of taking something from the game.
Team Reporter Analysis
Steffen Potter, Germany [Twitter] A winning goal in injury time while playing with ten men: this was Germany at their most impressive. You had a feeling that it might not be their tournament when Boateng was dismissed and Brandt hit the post, but Kroos has put the team’s destiny right back in its own hands.
SOCHI, RUSSIA - JUNE 23: Emil Forsberg of Sweden conrols the ball under pressure from Jerome Boateng of Germany during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Germany and Sweden at Fisht Stadium on June 23, 2018 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - JUNE 23: Ola Toivonen of Sweden celebrates scoring the opening goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Germany and Sweden at Fisht Stadium on June 23, 2018 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Alexandra Jonson, Sweden [Twitter] This could have been a dream result for Sweden, whose plan was clear from the outset: defend, hit Germany on the counter-attack and try to pick up a result. And it all worked perfectly until that final strike. The Swedes can nevertheless be proud of their performance, having come very close to securing a memorable result against the world champions.
Budweiser Man of the Match Marco Reus was a pivotal figure in the German midfield, enabling his team to retain a high level of possession and create a number of viable chances. Scorer of the equalising goal, he also played a supporting role in Kroos’ impressive stoppage-time winner.
The stat 94.39 – Toni Kroos’ goal is the latest winner ever scored on the World Cup stage. The previous record belonged to Francesco Totti, who found the net late on (94.26) against Australia in 2006.
What’s next (Group F) Korea Republic-Germany, 27 June, Kazan Mexico-Sweden, 27 June, Ekaterinburg
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