Mexico and Sweden qualified for the knockout stages of the World Cup after Germany were beaten 2-0 by South Korea and Sweden ran out 3-0 winners over Mexico.
Mexico needed a point to be sure of getting through to the next round, while both Germany and Sweden would need victories to stand a chance of progressing. Even South Korea were in with a chance, needing to win and provide a three-goal swing in their favour against the Swedes, assuming Sweden lost.
Mexico were riding high after two consecutive wins, but Germany were unsure of their form after a superb Toni Kroos winner against Sweden had only papered over the obvious cracks.
For a side that had never failed to qualify from their World Cup group, Germany were remarkably sluggish and vulnerable when South Korea attacked. Mesut Ozil was brought back to replace Thomas Muller, and he was unable to change the energy in the side.
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They survived in the first half not through their own defending, but due to the blunt edge with which the South Koreans went at their opponents. Manuel Neuer had to scramble to beat away a Jung free kick after spilling the effort, and Son later blasted a volley over when hitting the target seemed easier, but that was the best of their chances.
In the other game, Mexico appeared to be falling over themselves to put their place in the next stage in jeopardy. Ola Toivonen, Emil Forsberg and Marcus Berg all went close to scoring, but Sweden could not make the most of the chances.
Sweden manager Janna Anderson was then left fuming on the touchlines when a Victor Lindelof free kick appeared to strike Javier Hernandez on the arm in the penalty area, but the amount of argument over the decision suggested that the VAR review produced the correct – inconclusive – decision, and the game continued.
AS IT UNFOLDED: South Korea v Germany
AS IT UNFOLDED: Mexico v Sweden
Just after the restart, Sweden’s Ludwig Augustinsson bombed up the left wing to meet a Viktor Claesson, and put his side ahead with his first ever international goal. With the scores at that time, Sweden would have topped the group on fair play, and Germany were set for a World Cup exit.
Andreas Granqvist then doubled Sweden’s lead, converting his second penalty of the tournament when Berg was brought down by Hector Moreno. Attention turned to the Germany game, where Mario Gomez fired a powerful header straight at the ‘keeper. With 15 minutes of normal time remaining, Edson Alvarez’s own goal made it three. Sweden and Mexico were on six points, Germany four, and South Korea were on zero.
With full time looming, and as Germany chased a goal, South Korea shocked their opponents when they claimed all three points when Kim Young-gwon converted. Minutes later it was two as Neuer left his goal untended in desperation, and Heung-min Son tapped in after a chase upfield, and Germany were broken.
Sweden top Group F on goal difference, meaning they will meet the runners-up of Group E, while the winners of that group will face Mexico. Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia are their possible opponents.