Defending champions Germany were bundled out of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia on Wednesday at the Kazan Arena, while Mexico were left jubilant even after a 3-0 loss.
Group F has been a “Group of Farce’’, going by Germany’s opening loss to Mexico and off-field incidents between the Swedes and Germans which led to some FIFA fines and suspensions.
But none was as comical or dramatic as the final day matches, with Mexico losing 0-3 to Sweden in Ekaterinburg but still advancing as group runners-up.
More was yet to come as South Korea, who were just happy going home after two losses, beat Germany 2-0 with two stoppage-time goals at Kazan.
The 2002 joint hosts, who lost 0-1 to Germany in the semi-finals then, held on steadfastly as the game wore on even as they had nothing other than pride at stake.
South Korea even had the game’s best early chance when Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer spilled a free kick in the 19th minute but managed to recover quickly to slap the ball away.
Nervous Germany increased the pressure after the break and poured forward, but in spite of a one-sided second half they could not find the back of the net.
But as Germany looked incapable of breaking the deadlock, even as they just needed any form of win, Kim Young-gwon scored in added time to turn the calculations upside down.
The goal did not come without the VAR controversy and a video review had to follow for it to count, to the anguish of the Germans who were still hopeful.
Son Heung-min added another goal just before the final whistle, for the team which had stayed bottom of their group since day one to dash any hope of a German revival.
The four-time winners, who had not been eliminated in a World Cup first round since 1938, were a shadow of their once-dominant selves, managing only two goals in their three group games.
In the group’s other game, Sweden were in total command, having dominated the first half.
They went ahead with a fortuitous goal in the 51st minute, when Viktor Claesson completely mis-kicked his shot but the ball flew straight to Ludwig Augustinsson who fired past Guillermo Ochoa.
The Swedes extended their lead in the 62nd minute when Andreas Granqvist fired home a penalty kick after the referee ruled that Marcus Berg had been fouled by Hector Moreno.
Referee Nestor Pitana did not even call for a VAR review in spite of Mexican protests.
Mexico’s misery was compounded when Edson Alvarez put the ball in his own net in the 74th minute.
But both teams finished on six points, with Sweden topping on goal difference, to qualify at the end of the day.
How They Finished in Group F
Team P W D L GF GA GD Pts
Sweden 3 2 – 1 5 2 +3 6
Mexico 3 2 – 1 3 4 -1 6
South Korea 3 1 – 2 3 3 0 3
Germany 3 1 – 2 2 4 -2 3
The Day’s Results:
South Korea 2-0 Germany, at Kazan Arena in Kazan
Mexico 0-3 Sweden, at Ekaterinburg