Germany kept their dreams alive of qualifying for the knockout stages despite an early set-back when they met Sweden in Group F on Saturday evening.
The 2014 World Cup winners needed to pick up a result against their European counterparts in order to remain in the competition for the time being, after losing to Mexico in their opener – who themselves confirmed their place in the round of sixteen with victory over South Korea.
Sweden striker Ola Toivonen gave his country the lead mid-way through the first-half when he chipped an effort over Manuel Neuer, but the Germans survived embarrassment when winger Marco Reus used his knee to equalise early into the second-half.
Germany did end the game in tragic circumstances, however, as centre-half Jerome Boateng received his marching orders after a second bookable offence; putting an abundance of pressure on his side’s back line for the final ten minutes.
Although, they certainly ended the fixture in joyful spirits as Toni Kroos’ stunning free-kick from the edge of the box struck the back of the net to give the Germans all three points.
Germany sit second in the group thanks to that result with Mexico remaining top, Sweden now need to beat the North Americans on matchday three and hope South Korea can cause a major upset if they want to make it the knockout stages.
The Germany national team were drawn a catastrophic blow in their first World Cup game when, despite being the dominating side, Mexico were able to triumph the current holders 1-0, but in an attempt to swift talk of a disaster of falling out at the group stage, Joachim Löw’s men were adamant on netting an early goal.
Timo Werner of RB Leipzig dribbled his way into the six-yard box from the right, squaring it across to Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus but he was unable to divert his shot from close range into the back of the net – admittedly, the Swedish defence put their bodies on the line as they hope to progress to the knock stages.
Attacks continued to swarm the Sweden half as Die Mannschaft aimed to put the doubters to bed; the 2014 winners looked a changed team from the one which lost to Mexico several days ago.
With or without Video Assistant Refereeing, the Swedish certainly had the right for a penalty shout a quarter of an hour into the first-half as striker Marcus Berg was almost one-on-one with Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer but was taken down by the scrambling Jerome Boateng.
The defender appeared to get very minimal, if any, contact on the ball and brought Berg down inside the area as he was about to shoot – the stadium went into uproar- but the referee waved away any claims for a kick from the spot and VAR agreed with the man in the middle.
Completely against the run of play and may feel the goal is deserved after the early penalty claim which the referee denied; Toulouse attacking midfielder Ola Toivonen was played over the top by team-mate Viktor Claesson, calmly controlled the sweet ball and so quaintly lobbed his shot over the out coming Manuel Neuer to give Sweden the lead and one foot into the knockout stages.
Germany will feel experienced midfielder Toni Kroos is to blame for the goal conceded and if the result stood at one-nil then the tipped favourites to lift the trophy would be bowing out of the competition at the first hurdle.
Just as they did in the first-half, Germany came out after the interval on the front foot as Timo Werner had the ball at his feet on the by-line, passed it across the six-yard area and Reus is able to make contact via his knee.
Any doubt of the Germans progressing to the round of sixteen were swiftly forgotten about with the equaliser from the Borussia Dortmund man and numerous chances fell to the current World Cup holders in the moments following the goal. It happened to be the 29-year-old’s tenth international goal in his career.
Despite being disadvantaged after Boateng’s sending off, Germany salvaged themselves a late free-kick on the edge of the box with Toni Kroos confidently standing over the ball.
With every man back defending the set-piece to ensure they kept their own dreams alive, the Real Madrid man was able to curl the ball into the top corner in dramatic fashion as Germany got their first win of the tournament and jumped up into second of the group, behind Mexico.