Marco Reus and Toni Kroos scored fine goals as reigning champions Germany survived a scare in dramatic fashion on Saturday, producing a stirring second-half fightback to beat Sweden 2-1 in their second Group F encounter and keep their hopes of a World Cup title defence alive.
Germany 2-1 Sweden
Goals: 0-1 Toivonen (32'), 1-1 Reus (48'), 2-1 Kroos (90+5')
Red cards: Boateng (82')
Needing a victory after the shock defeat to Mexico last week, Joachim Löw's men began brightly, with Reus lively in his first World Cup start. They had the first chance of the match too, but Jonas Hector couldn't fire through a crowded six-yard box. There were several warning signs from the Swedes, however, first as RB Leipzig's Emil Forsberg threatened to break clear only for Thomas Müller to make a last-ditch recovery, before Marcus Berg missed a one-on-one with Manuel Neuer.
Germany's vulnerability at the back was eventually exploited when Ola Toivonen punished a rare mistake from Kroos in midfield to lob the ball into the net. Affronted at being 45 minutes away from a humiliating early elimination, Germany started the second period furiously and equalised almost instantly when Reus finished from Timo Werner's cross. Die Mannschaft pressed relentlessly, at times desperately, in search of a winner, with Sweden barely able to make it out of their own half, but despite carving out several openings they simply could not score.
Matters went from bad to worse for Germany in the closing stages when Jerome Boateng was sent off for a second bookable offence, but even then substitute Julian Brandt almost snatched a winner with a fierce drive off the post from the edge of the box. And just when it looked like Löw's men were on their way home, Kroos curled in a sensational free-kick in the fifth minute of injury time to snatch all three points and keep Germany's hopes alive.
Germany: Neuer (c) – Kimmich, Boateng, Rüdiger, Hector (Brandt 87') – Kroos, Rudy (Gündogan 31') – Müller, Draxler (Gomez 46'), Reus – Werner
Absentees: Hummels (neck)
Coach: Joachim Löw
Sweden: Olsen – Lustig, Granqvist (c), Lindelof, Augustinsson – Claesson (Durmaz 74'), Larsson, Ekdal, Forsberg – Berg (Thelin 90'), Toivonen (Guidetti 78')
Coach: Janne Andersson
*Bundesliga players in bold
- Germany had 71 per cent possession and completed 90 per cent of their passes (629 of 699), while just 75 per cent of Sweden's passes found a team-mate (163 of 215).
- Die Mannschaft collectively covered 68.97 miles to Sweden's 68.35.
- Reus made his first start in a World Cup match in this fixture.
- Brandt hit the post for the second game in succession after coming on as a late substitute.
- This was the ninth match in a row that Germany have followed a defeat at a World Cup with a victory.
- Kroos' 95th-minute goal was Germany's latest ever (not including extra-time) in World Cup history.