Germany turned the table over Sweden and beat them 2-1 in stoppage time Saturday, while Belgium outclassed Tunisia in a 5-2 win that secured them a place in round of 16, and Mexico defeated South Korea 2-1.
Toni Kroos was the man and his late free-kick winner against stubborn Sweden ignited the Fisht Stadium, Sochi.
A foul against Germany, who were pressing hard to score a second goal, was committed in the stoppage time just on edge of the box.
Kroos, the Real Madrid midfielder, curled the ball to the far corner of the net and beyond the reach of Robin Olsen in the 95th minute of the game.
“This was a thriller, full of emotions and a rollercoaster ride right up to the final whistle,” Germany coach Joachim low said after the game.
Swede Ola Toivonen received a pass from right side of the pitch and took the ball down on his chest and tipped it over Manuel Neuer and netted Sweden first goal in 32nd minute. The goal sent a shivering effect to the German squad.
“After conceding a goal we kept a level head, we said that we needed to make quick passes, cover ground to tire out Sweden and then open up spaces, which we were able to do,” said Low.
Germany entered the second half with an apparent determination to put further pressure, and it was Marco Reus who converted a cross from Timo Werner in 48th minute to level the score sheet.
Germany kept the pressure in second half, said Low, who said his team failed to score on a couple of clear opportunities.
The German manager praised his players. “what I did appreciate was the spirit of the team. We never lost hope that we could turn the tide and win this match.” Sweden coach Janne Andersson was on a different mode. “This is probably the heaviest ending to a game in my career.
“But the whole group is still alive, so we will have to lick our wounds and come back for the next match,” said Andersson on the next game against Mexico on Wednesday.
“We still have an excellent chance to qualify. We’re going to do everything we can to achieve that when we get as far as Wednesday. But emotionally right now we are just so disappointed that we didn’t get a single point,” he said.
Mexico was leading Group F with six points, while Germany and Sweden have three points each.
Belgium meanwhile guaranteed qualification to Round 16 with a 5-2 win over Tunisia, in its first registered five goals match in the World Cup, as the goals stacked up through the whole 90 minutes at the Spartak Stadium and its 44,190 fantastic supporting fans.
Belgium opens the score early with a successfully converted penalty by Eden Hazard in the 6th minute, to give his team the lead.
Within 10 minutes, Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku came with his third goal in Russia 2018 firing a well set up strike into the bottom right corner in the 16th minute.
Shortly after Tunisia scored their first of the match halfing the Belgium lead, with a superb delivery from a free-kick to Dylan Bronn finish with a header in the 18th minute, scoring his first international goal.
Another delightful finish by Lukaku three minutes in stoppage time of the first half, after Thomas Meunier creates a chance by playing the ball infield from the right to reach the No. 9, a perfect tactic the teammates have been discussing off the pitch.
A good opening first half for the Red Devils with the team continuing their cool control of the game in the second part of the match when Kevin De Bruyne created the opportunity for Hazard to score his second of the match with an excellently controlled reception of the ball with his chest before finishing it behind the net, extending the lead to 4-1.
The Tunisian coach Nabil Maaloul changes tactics and pushes forward with his team with five attackers on the pitch with a logic of having nothing to lose.
Twenty minutes after being substituted in, Michy Batshuayi got a goal through in the final 90th minute of the match after a streak of failed attempts at the target, giving his team their fifth goal of the game.
Three minutes in stoppage time Whabi Khazri comes up with a goal showing Tunisia’s fighting spirit to settle the final score 5-2, even though the loss eliminates any chances of the team moving on in the World Cup.
Belgium manager Roberto Martinez was satisfied with his player’s performance, giving credit to Lukaku and his goal scoring efforts saying, “Romelu will try to score as many goals as he can but not at all costs. I thought he was incisive, in the right position, in a confident mood, in front of goal he was as clinical as you might expect.” Martinez added, “Many things can be better. This was a game that suited our style, you have to give credit to Tunisia. They wanted to win from the beginning, press high up. The credit was that we deserve is that we took those opportunities well. We are still growing. With a two-goal lead we lead we should have controlled the game a little bit better.” The Tunisian manager Nabil Maaloul come out to say, “As expected, it was a very difficult match. Ever since we were drawn into this group we knew Belgium were going to be a tough opponent. We would like to apologize to the Tunisian fans who were numerous in the stadium today.” Maaloul replied to a question directed at Tunisia attacking performance outside the World Cup compared to recent, and the coach said, “friendly matches are informal so the opponent will not give its best. We have been accused of not pushing forward, but today we relied on the attacking side and did not defend very well.
“If you watch Premier League matches, you will see teams playing in a defensive strategy to oppose players like Lukaku and Hazard, so any lapse will cause the team to concede a goal and these players able to exploit the spaces and create chances themselves,” he added.
“I think that 80 per cent of the match is based on moral,” said Maaloul as he went on to explain the highs and lows of his teams moral throughout the match.
He pointed out how Belgium’s third goal greatly affected his team’s morale when it came right before halftime after their first goal, as did the substitutions in the backline after players were injured which put more pressure on the players. “And I think the Belgium team deserved to win.” In the third match today, Mexico defeated South Korea 2-1 in a match at Rostov Arena.
In the 26th minute, Mexico successfully converted the penalty granted after Hyunsoo Jang’s handball was spotted, as Carlos Vela scored an opener to put his team in the lead.
After the opening goal by Mexico, the battle intensified with South Korea’s counter-attacks proven to be dangerous for the opponent’s defence. In the 66th minute, Javier Hernandez “Chicharito” doubled the lead for Mexico with a swift control and passed by the Korean defenders to put it behind the net.
The South Korean team was still confident in attacking near the end of the match, with a spectacular goal by Heungmin Son in the 93rd minute.
Source: Kuwait News Agency