Kroos mis­sile se­cures last-gasp Ger­many win

Stabroek News Sunday - - SUNDAY SPORT -

SOCHI, Rus­sia, (Reuters) - A stop­page­time goal from Toni Kroos gave hold­ers Ger­many a dra­matic 2-1 win over Swe­den yes­ter­day to reignite their hopes of qual­i­fy­ing for the World Cup last 16.

Hav­ing lost their open­ing game to Mex­ico, the Ger­mans looked to be head­ing for a draw un­til Kroos curled in a su­perb strike from wide on the left to se­cure vic­tory for the four-time world cham­pi­ons.

They are now level with Swe­den in Group F on three points, be­hind lead­ers Mex­ico who have six.

Swe­den took the lead in the 32nd minute when Ola Toivo­nen fin­ished con­fi­dently af­ter Kroos gave the ball away in mid­field, chest­ing the ball down ex­pertly be­fore lift­ing it over Manuel Neuer.

Marco Reus equalised in the 48th minute and de­spite hav­ing Jerome Boateng sent off in the 82nd

minute, Ger­many kept go­ing and Kroos’s shot five min­utes into stop­page time earned them a fa­mous win.

“We did not take our chances. We should have taken the lead in the open­ing min­utes and we failed to do that (but) there is joy now,” Kroos told reporters.

“I know a lot of peo­ple would have been happy for us to be elim­i­nated but we will not make it that easy for them ... now we must re­cover, we don’t have too much time, and we must beat South Korea.”

It was a cruel blow for the Swedes, who gave their all but came up just short.

“It’s prob­a­bly the worst end of a game I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced in my ca­reer, that we didn’t get a draw, but the whole group is still alive, so we’ll have to lick our wounds and come back for the next one,” Swe­den coach Janne An­der­s­son said

De­fend­ing deep and look­ing to counter, the Swedes started shak­ily but took the lead when they pun­ished Kroos for giv­ing the ball away by quickly find­ing Toivo­nen, who lifted the ball deftly over Neuer.

FIZZING PASSES

With Ger­many get­ting in be­hind Swe­den’s full backs at will and fizzing passes across the box, it looked like a mat­ter of time be­fore they scored, but Toivo­nen’s goal gave Swe­den breath­ing space.

Neuer saved the Ger­mans from be­ing 2-0 down at half­time, div­ing ac­ro­bat­i­cally to de­flect Berg’s header from Se­bas­tian Lars­son’s stop­page-time free kick.

Reus con­nected with his knee to steer the ball home for the equaliser early in the sec­ond half to mark the be­gin­ning of a mas­sive Ger­man of­fen­sive.

Sub­sti­tute Mario Gomes gave the Ger­mans a phys­i­cal pres­ence they had lacked, but he spurned two su­perb chances.

Boateng’s send­ing-off for his sec­ond yel­low card eight min­utes from time made lit­tle dif­fer­ence as the Ger­mans con­tin­ued to push for­ward in search of the win­ner.

Swe­den had tired from their enor­mous de­fen­sive ef­fort, but sub­sti­tute John Guidetti should have done bet­ter than a lame shot, obliv­i­ous to the un­marked Emil Fors­berg who was steam­ing through the mid­dle.

From there the Ger­mans launched the at­tack that led to sub­sti­tute Jimmy Durmaz trip­ping Timo Werner and con­ced­ing the free kick that set up the chance for Kroos to curl in the win­ner.

The ball arced over help­less keeper Robin Olsen into the net, spark­ing an ex­plo­sion of Ger­man joy on the bench and in the stands as the reign­ing cham­pi­ons kick-started their World Cup cam­paign.

“I told them to keep their calm in the next 45 min­utes and to not start pan­ick­ing and try to work long, high balls but to con­tinue with short passes and go ver­ti­cal to the wings and try to be in­ci­sive,” Ger­many coach Joachim Loew told reporters.

“Some­thing that I did ap­pre­ci­ate was that we didn’t lose our nerve, we didn’t panic af­ter go­ing down. And in the sec­ond half the pres­sure built up more and more,” he added.

Ger­many’s Toni Kroos scores his team’s sec­ond goal REUTERS/Han­nah McKay.

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