Kazan: World Champions Germany spectacularly crashed out of the Group stage of the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 as Video Assistant Referee (VAR) helped South Korea to a 2-0 scoreline to finish Die Mannschaft’s hopes of retaining their crown.
This continues the trend of reigning World Cup champions failing to make it to the knockout rounds in recent editions, with Germany becoming the third successive champions after Spain (winners in 2010) and Italy (winners in 2006) to be eliminated from the group stage.
Buoyed by their last-gasp 2-1 victory over Sweden on Saturday, the Germans needed the three points for their qualification hopes to be secure, however, a much-changed side from Saturday failed to break down the South Korean resistance, while the Swedes, courtesy of an emphatic 3-0 victory over Mexico, progressed at the champions’ cost.
South Korea, having been eliminated after a 2-1 defeat to Mexico, started the game with a spring in their step and mounted pressure on the Germans both on and off the ball. They had their first real sighter at goal from a Jung Woo-Young free-kick, with his swerving effort first spilt by Manuel Neuer before he could punch it out of play.
Germany were growing frustrated as they could not manage to string meaningful passes together, as the South Koreans held their ground and thwarted any German penetration. However, Germany finished the first half with two good opportunities falling their way.
Mat Hummels gathered the ball from a corner and wriggled out a yard to let fly from close range, although his effort was well saved by Cho Hyun-Woo in the Korean goal. Soon after, Timo Werner struck the post from inside the box; however, it wouldn’t have counted as the referee blew the whistle for a Jonas Hector foul in the build-up.
The second half started in similar fashion for the Germans as a rising Leon Groetzka header was stopped by Cho.
Korea absorbed all the German pressure, breaking into a counter-attack with the German back line exposed. Both teams missed an array of chances, with the best of them falling to Germany as Mesut Ozil’s delightful cross was picked up by Hummels in the box, but his header was woeful, to say the least.
VAR came into play in stoppage time after an offside decision overruling a Jang Hyun-Soo goal from a corner, was review by the referee and overturned, giving the Koreans a deserved lead. It also meant that Germany were left with a mountain to climb.
In the end, Son ended their misery after Neuer conceded possession to allow Ju Se-Hong to release Son, who scored into an empty net to make it 2-0 on the night.
Meanwhile, goals from Ludwig Augustinsson and Andreas Granqvist, along with an unfortunate own goal from Edson Alvarez gave Sweden a resounding 0-3 victory, ensuring their qualification into the group stage as table toppers.
Guillermo Ochoa saved Emil Forsberg and Marcus Berg efforts in the first half, with Augustinsson volleying in the opener early in the second half.
Granqvist then converted from the spot, after a Hector Moreno challenge on Berg was deemed to be a foul.
Soon after, Alvarez sent the ball into his own net as Sweden ended up usurping Mexico’s top spot in Group F.
Tonight’s Group G matches will decide who Sweden and Mexico will play in the Round-of-16. (ANI)