Germany exited the World Cup under dramatic circumstances on Wednesday, after slumping to a shock 2-0 defeat to the hands of South Korea in Kazan. Joachim Loew’s finished bottom of Group F, and became the third defending champion in a row to get knocked out in the group stages. Last time out, Spain bowed out at the first time of asking after winning in 2010, when the winners from 2006, Italy went home after the group games. The other game in the group was just as dramatic, as Sweden beat an in-form Mexico side 3-0 to finish top.
Germany were in second place behind Mexico coming into this match, and knew that a win would almost certainly take them through. Loew brought back Mesut Ozil into the starting line-up and dropped Thomas Muller. He also started Leon Goretzka in place of Julian Draxler. Despite the wealth of young and exciting talent at their disposal, the four-time winners had struggled in both their games so far. After a shock 1-0 loss to Mexico in the first round of fixtures, they needed a dramatic last-minute free-kick winner from Toni Kroos against Sweden to keep themselves alive.
The two games were goalless at half-time, and the scenario hadn’t changed at all. The Germans were dominating the game against South Korea, who were already eliminated and were only playing for pride, and it seemed just a matter of time before the breakthrough came. In Ekaterinburg, Mexico were dominating the match possession-wise, and didn’t look in too much trouble.
Things got interesting early on in the second half, when left-back Ludwig Augustinsson gave Sweden the lead. This put the pressure right back on Germany. The Swedes doubled their advantage on the hour-mark, with captain Andreas Granqvist converting his second penalty of the tournament. The situation changed dramatically with this and now if Germany scored, it would be Mexico that would go out. It got even better for Sweden with 15 minutes left to play, as Edson Alvarez completely messed up a clearance and ended up putting the ball through his own net. It was now clear that Sweden were most certainly going through. Mexico, perpetrators of their own downfall in the second half, now hoped and prayed that South Korea could keep the mighty Germany out in the closing stages of the game.
Germany though, were looking anything but mighty. They were fashioning some good chances, and Mats Hummels passed up two glorious opportunities to head his side into the lead. We hit the 90-minute mark, and the board went up to show 6 minutes of time added on. Mario Gomez, Timo Werner, Mesut Ozil, Marco Reus, Thomas Muller and Julian Brandt were all on the pitch, but the Asians were defending their hearts out. Not only that, they were also having chances of their own on the counter-attack against a side threadbare at the back.
In the 92nd minute, from a South Korean corner, the unthinkable happened. The ball bobbled around for a bit before breaking Kim Young-gwon, who couldn’t miss from 3 yards. The goal was initially ruled out for offside, but replays showed that the final touch had come off a German player, which meant Kim couldn’t be offside. The goal stood, and the world couldn’t believe its eyes.
The time added on was increased to a minimum of nine minutes, and Germany threw everyone forward. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was playing as a midfielder, and his worst nightmare came true in the 96th minute. Germany lost possession, and a Korean players hoofed the ball forward, for Son Heung-min to latch on to and finish into an unguarded net.
The world’s best team, defending champions and favourites for the tournament are no more.