Toni Kroos saves Germany from World Cup exit

A wonderful goal by Toni Kroos (pictured) in the 95th minute kept reigning champions Germany’s hopes alive as they beat Sweden 2-1 in a thriller in Sochi on Sunday and narrowly escaped an ignominious World Cup exit.

At half time, it looked as if Germany were minutes away from being eliminated as Sweden were leading by one goal and making openings to score more.

After losing to Mexico, Germany made a rousing start and dominated the first 10 minutes attacking Sweden but not scoring.

Julian Draxler got a chance in the 8th minute but his shot narrowly missed the post. Sweden would have been one up in the 13th minute when German defence gave Marcus Berg enough room to send a powerful volley which was saved by goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Sweden could have earned at least two penalties but they were ignored by the referee. Viktor Claesson’s pinpointed pass gave Berg a golden chance with only Neuer before him when he was brought down by Jerome Boateng without playing the ball. The referee ignored Sweden’s penalty appeal. Next, Emil Forsberg was fouled by Thomas Muller in Germany’s box area. Again, the referee denied a free-kick to Sweden.

By now, German players were so desperate to score that they positioned themselves in Sweden’s half. This was the opportunity Swedes were waiting for.

Toivonen scored for Sweden in the 32nd minute by collecting a Claesson cross on his chest and lobbing it over the goalkeeper. Germans lost their poise after that goal and Sweden almost came to scoring again in the dying moments of the first half.  Forsberg sent a pinpointed cross to Claesson who shot over the bar. Then Berg’s header from Henrik Larsson’s free-kick was saved by Neuer.

In the third minute into the second half, Germany’s  Timo Werner sent a cross into the box. It did not reach Mario Gomez but Marco Reus took it with his knee and sent it to the net past Sweden’s goalkeeper Robin Olsen.

The goal energised Germany and they began to dominate again for the next 20 minutes while the Swedish players looked exhausted. But before Germany could make it 2-1 against Sweden, Boateng was sent off in the 82nd minute. As the teams remained tied at the 90th minute, Germany was on the verge of exit.

In the dying moments of the game, Kroos took a free kick which curled into the top corner sending German fans into raptures and breaking Swedish hearts.

After Germany’s win, Mexico leads with six points while Germany and Sweden have three points each and South Korea is yet to earn one. On June 27, Mexico will play Sweden in Ekaterinburg and South Korea will meet Germany in Kazan. If Germany and Sweden win their respective matches, they will have 6 points each along with Mexico.