The beauty of the World Cup is that you never know what’s going to happen next, even when you think it’s all happening right before your very eyes. We often take surprises in football for granted but it’s impossible to do so today, as Sweden’s emphatic victory over Mexico alongside South Korea’s shocking win against Germany knocked the 2014 world champions out of the tournament – ensuring that the Swedes and the Mexicans progress through to the knockout stages.
Heading into the WC this year you could argue that the Germans weren’t at their best, but nobody could’ve anticipated that they’d fall this hard. Regardless of that, there will be plenty of time to discuss their failures: and instead, we should be examining what was a truly phenomenal performance by Sweden as they were able to bounce back from their last-minute defeat against Germany with a bang.
The first half was very paint by numbers with both sides going through the motions, as Mexico looked fairly comfortable despite the fact that there was always a chance they could’ve crashed out despite winning their first two games.
But then, early on in the second half, everything changed when Ludwig Augustinsson struck from close range to silence the Mexican fans in attendance. The news filtered through to the Germans who were then in need of a goal to keep them in the tournament, but before anyone could stop and think about the potential repercussions, Andreas Granqvist scored his second penalty of the World Cup when Hector Moreno tripped up Marcus Berg in the area.
At this stage in the game it became clear to Mexico that they were in trouble, and yet they could do nothing about it. It seemed as if they thought they were already through until the realisation dawned on them that they may need to stage a dramatic comeback just to reach the Round of 16.
Alas, their game went from bad to worse when Edson Alvarez turned the ball into his own net which pretty much summed up Mexico’s day at the office. Sweden were able to play out the rest of the second half with very little worry as they knew it was a case of ‘mission accomplished’, and with South Korea’s 2-0 win over Germany being confirmed, the party could begin for both nations.
They won’t be celebrating for too long, however, as their attentions turn towards the games later tonight when Group E’s final table is decided. Mexico & Sweden will learn who they’ll face in the next round with Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia all being possible opponents.
Mexico: Ochoa (6), Alvarez (5), Salcedo (6), Moreno (5.5), Gallardo (6), Herrera (5.5), Guardado (6), Layun (5.5), Vela (6), Lozano (6), Hernandez (6.5)
Sweden: Olsen (6), Lustig (7), Lindelof (7), Granqvist (7.5), Augustinsson (8), Claesson (7), Larsson (6), Ekdal (6), Forsberg (7), Berg (6.5), Toivonen (5.5)
Referee: Néstor Pitana
Goals: Augustinsson, Granqvist, Alvarez
Yellow Cards: Moreno, Gallardo, Layun, Lustig, Larsson
Red Cards: N/A
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