Germany completed an extraordinary comeback at the 95th minute to beat Sweden when down to 10 men and keep their World Cup hopes alive.
It could still be the third World Cup in a row in which the reigning champions have gone out in the group stage, after Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014.
Joachim Low made several changes after the shock defeat to Mexico, dropping Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil and Marvin Plattenhardt, with Mats Hummels injured. Remarkably, it’s the first time Ozil has been benched at a major tournament for Germany, ending a run of 26 consecutive World Cup and Euro games in the starting XI.
Die Mannschaft simply had to win and came flying out the blocks, Julian Draxler wasting a golden opportunity within 120 seconds. This desperate attack left them wide open on the counter and Manuel Neuer managed to parry from Marcus Berg, only after a contentious challenge from Jerome Boateng that did not warrant a VAR review.
Sebastian Rudy was unlucky when accidentally kicked in the face by Ola Toivonen, breaking his nose, and had to be replaced by Ilkay Gundogan.
Moments later, Sweden took the lead. Toivonen chested down a pass between two centre-backs and chipped it over the on-rushing Neuer.
Robin Olsen made a sensational double save on Gundogan’s deflected strike and the Thomas Muller follow-up, but Sweden wasted a glorious chance on the counter and Neuer palmed away a glancing Berg header.
Germany equalised straight after the restart, Timo Werner’s deflected cross tapped in by Marco Reus from six yards.
They piled on the pressure, substitute and ex-Fiorentina striker Mario Gomez turning over from point-blank range, as did Werner when practically unmarked.
Jerome Boateng was having a poor game and overall tournament, which got worse when he received a second yellow card.
Despite being down to 10 men, Germany still nearly turned it around, Olsen palming a Mario Gomez header out from under the bar, but Julian Brandt was unlucky to see his screamer thump the upright deep into stoppages.
Just a they seemed doomed, Germany scored an extraordinary winner at the 95th minute. Kroos hit a viciously swerving missile into the far top corner on a touched-on free kick from the outside edge of the box. It was Kroos who gave the ball away for the opening goal and gave them a desperately needed victory.
Germany 2-1 Sweden
Toivonen 32 (S), Reus 48 (G), Kroos 95 (G)
Germany: Neuer; Kimmich, Boateng, Rüdiger, Hector (Brandt 87); Rudy (Gundogan 31), Kroos; Müller, Draxler (Gomez 46), Reus; Werner
Sweden: Olsen; Lustig, Lindelöf, Granqvist, Augustinsson; Claesson (Durmaz 74), Larsson, Ekdal, Forsberg; Toivonen (Guidetti 78), Berg (Thelin 90)
Ref: Marciniak (POL)
Sent off: Boateng 82 (G)
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