Viet Nam News
KAZAN, Russia — Germany have suffered their first group stage elimination since 1938 as two late goals from a resilient South Korean side forced a 2-0 stunner over the defending champions in Russia World Cup here on Wednesday.
The Germans needed a win to go past the group stage but the fighting South Koreans clinched whatever chances they had to make the Germans’ efforts in vain.
Both South Korea and Germany entered the match with a few changes made to their starting lineup after losing a couple of key players to injury or suspension in the previous two Group F matches.
For South Korea, Jung Wooyoung started in place of injured captain Ki Sungyueng in central midfield, while coach Shin Taeyong retained the 4-4-2 formation.
In the German side, star striker Thomas Mueller, who was not in top form in previous matches, was kept on the bench, while teammate Sebastian Rudy was also not in after breaking his nose in the match against the Swedes.
The South Koreans tried to take the initiative from the very beginning, but the Germans, as the stronger side, soon took control and pressed high.
But it was South Korea that made the first serious threat at the goal when the Asian side were awarded a free kick opportunity in the 18th minute. Jung Wooyoung pushed the shot at the goal but was parred by German keeper Manuel Neuer, who continued to bat the ball further away, making Son Heungmin’s attempts to follow with a shot to no avail.
Both sides got a couple of opportunities in the rest of the first half but failed to capitalize on them to open the scoring.
After a goalless first half, the two sides went into the second half with more active spirits. Both sides made a few replacements, with Thomas Mueller coming off the bench in the 63rd minute.
Although the Germans dominated the ball for most of the match, they failed to convert them to scoring especially in face of the South Korean keeper Jo Hyeonwoo’s continuous superb saves.
The South Koreans, on the other side, seemed to have more clear-cut chances with strong defense and fast counter attacking.
The deadlock was finally broken in the stoppage time, when South Korea opened a corner and in the chaos in the box, Kim Younggwon shot the ball into the top corner of the net. The video assistant referee (VAR) showed that the ball first came off a Germany player and it was ruled that the goal was not offside.
With just three minutes left, the Germans went all out, including goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, pressing hard in a bid to equalize, but the South Koreans took the chance to launch a counterattack and their star striker Son Heungmin, after taking a long pass from a teammate, outrun the German defenders and pushed the ball into the empty net.
The VAR system showed again that the second goal was also effective and sealed the victory for South Korea 2-0.
FIFA statistics showed that Germany made 26 attempts at the goal throughout the match, while South Korea made 11. Ball possession was 70 percent for Germany and 30 percent for South Korea.
It was the third encounter of Germany and South Korea at a World Cup tournament, with Germany victorious in both of the previous two meetings.
South Korea coach Shin Tae-yong, who had said previously that his team had only a one-percent chance to win, said he felt both great and a bit empty after the match.
"I told my players it really was a last-ditch effort for them and I told them that they had to fight until the end," said Shin.
He attributed the victory partly to a "reversed strategy" his team used in the match.
"I thought about what mistakes Germany might make, because they probably felt they would be able to beat us — that’s what everybody thought. So I thought we could use that as a reverse strategy and I think that has really hit the nail on the head," said the coach. — XINHUA