World Cup diary 2018 – Thursday 28 June
Going into yesterday’s fixtures there was the possibility that both Germany and Brazil could have exited the competition at the group stage. The South American’s progressed with a goal in each half, through Paulinho (36′) and Thiago Silva (68’), although Mitrovic had two decent headed chances that the Serbian couldn’t convert when the score was still at just 1-0. In the other Group E game, Switzerland took on Costa Rica, knowing that a point would be enough to take them through. Costa Rica dominated the opening half-hour and but for the woodwork and some fine saves from Swiss ‘keeper Yann Sommer, would have been comfortably ahead. However, somewhat against the run of play, Switzerland went in front when Dzemali smashed home a knock-down in the box on thirty-one minutes. Costa Rica though got back in the game after the interval with a smart header from Waston and then followed a dramatic last few minutes. First with just two minutes of normal time left. Drmic swept home sweetly to restore the Swiss advantage at 2-1. Almost immediately, Costa Rica were awarded a penalty, which was then overruled by VAR for offside. However, they weren’t to be denied the chance of an equaliser as on ninety- three minutes they were awarded another penalty. Up stepped captain, Bryan Ruiz who crashed the ball against the crossbar but as it bounced out it rebounded off the back of ‘keeper Sommer’s head and into the net to secure a 2-2 draw and a point for Costa Rico. In terms of the final placings, it meant Brazil topped Group with Switzerland in second place.
The real drama of the day though was to be in Group F. Sweden dispatched Mexico with three second-half goals from Augustinsson (50′), Granqvist (62′ pen) and Alvarez (74′ own-goal), leaving both sides with six points. It meant that Germany had to beat South Korea to advance. The 2014 Champions huffed and puffed with late pressure creating a couple of decent chances. However, as the game went into stoppage time it was the South Koreans who made the breakthrough, with Kim Young-Gwon having all the time in the world to control and slot into the German net. As Germany looked for a consolation with time running out, ‘keeper Manuel Neuer was caught in possession in midfield. Korea pumped the ball goal-wards, where Son Heung-Min gleefully slotted into an empty German goal to record an improbable 2-0 victory.
Two of the most interesting facts to emerge from this result were:
- The Champions curse – Germany fell in the Group stages four years after lifting the trophy, as did France in 2002, Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014.
- It is only the second time that Germany have been eliminated from the first round at the World Cup, with 1938 the last occasion.
What all the results from Group E and F meant was that the last 16 games are as follows:
July 02 Brazil v Mexico July 03 Sweden v Switzerland