Defending champions Germany got off to a disastrous start to their bid to win back-to-back world cups with an upset loss to mexico.
Their disjointed side looked extraordinarily vulnerable at half-time, even before Javier Hernandez punished them with the pass that set up Lozano to cut inside and shoot on goal.
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toni kroos almost responded instantly with a free kick, but guillermo ochoa hit the bar and that was the closest germany came to equalising.
Despite facing sustained late pressure, Mexico held on to inflict a first World Cup defeat on the Mannschaft since losing to Spain in the 2010 semi-final.
This was also the first time a German team had lost their opening match in this tournament since 1982, when West Germany was defeated by Algeria.
It could also result in a damaging loss. Although Germany is still expected to beat Sweden and South Korea and advance, the Group F runners-up will face a Round of 16 tie against the Group E winner, expected to be Brazil.
unconvincing germany pays the price
Low’s side had come into the tournament on the back of some unconvincing displays and results in their recent friendlies, but there had been no sign of panic in their camp.
Things were very different in a noisy Luzhniki stadium, with Germany displaying little of the composure or class that we associate with them in the grand finals.
Even before they fell back, they were often outmatched in midfield, with Kroos and Sami Khedira unable to offer their defense any protection against Mexico’s quick counter-attacks.
Germany’s right flank seemed susceptible to counterattack, with Joshua Kimmich’s incursions leaving room for Lozano and Hernandez to gallop in unopposed.
If ‘el tri’ had made more of his chances, or found a better final ball, then he could have been two or three goals ahead at the break.
At the other extreme, Germany were also unconvincing in the early stages, with their famous midfield machine struggling to find a way through Mexico’s determined defence.
Although they improved in the second half and dominated possession, Germany’s finishing touch eluded them and Mexico continued to cause problems on the counterattack.
Germany’s utter desperation to equalize was evident by the number of men they threw forward, including, at one point, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
It left them even more exposed in the midfield and back in the final stages, and Mexico could have punished them even more. in the end, however, one goal was enough.
Mexico’s defense stops the German counterattack
Mexico had only won one of their last 11 meetings with Germany, the most recent ending in a 4-1 loss to what was virtually Low’s b-team in last year’s Confederations Cup.
but they fully deserved this victory, which caused great celebrations from their thousands of fans who had traveled to moscow, many of them in typically colorful costumes.
the intensity of mexico’s game was matched by their supporters, who not only outnumbered their germany counterparts, but also outsang them. That wasn’t the only reason Germany seemed unsettled, but it certainly helped.
lozano’s pace and willingness to drive in the germany defense was the highlight of the first half, with only a late block from jerome boateng denying him in the first minute and setting the pattern for the early stages.
The second half was more of a display of Mexico’s defensive capabilities, especially near the end, but they survived.
mexico came to russia hoping to finally achieve a ‘fifth match’ or fifth match, after losing in the round of 16 in the last six world cups.
juan carlos osorio’s team have a lot more work to do before they achieve that goal, but their famous attention to detail paid off here and they appear strong both technically and tactically. they will be hard to beat.
man of the match – hirving lozano (mexico)
‘Everybody is unhappy and crestfallen’ – what they said
Mexico’s coach, Juan Carlos Osorio: “In the first half we were the best team. In the second half they tried to attack more. Yesterday we prepared for them to use Mario Gómez up front. We practiced defending with four midfielders and three forwards and we almost got the second goal.
“We showed that we have a bright future and I am very satisfied with what we did. We played bravely when it was necessary and also defended with all our hearts.”
joachim low, germany coach: “in the first half we played very badly. we couldn’t impose our usual way of playing, attacking and there were a lot of counterattacks against us. and we were very vulnerable.
“in the second half we were able to push harder, but mexico fell back and then took the ball quickly. we had a couple of shouts, but it seemed jinxed and the ball didn’t go into the goal. everyone is really unhappy and downcast, but we have to leave this behind. our team is experienced in loss.”
lozano reaches the final in form – the statistics
- Mexico has won its first match in a world cup for the fifth time in its last six tournaments (tying the other).
- This is the third consecutive world cup in which the reigning champions have failed to win their first match: italy drew 1-1 with paraguay in 2010 and spain lost 5-1 to the netherlands in 2014.
- mexico beat germany for the second time: their last victory against them they arrived in a friendly in June 1985.
- hirving lozano was mexico’s top scorer in the 2018 world cup qualifier (four goals) and scored his first goal in the final of this match.
- germany had 26 shots, the most by a team without scoring in a world cup match since 2006 (portugal v england, 29 shots in a 0-0 draw).
- mexico has lost only two of his last 18 World Cups. group stage matches (w9 d7).
- This was Germany’s first loss in a competitive match since losing 2-0 to France in the Euro 2016 semi-final.
- germany named its eldest starting player for a world cup match (average age 27 years 310 days) since the 2002 final against brazil (28 years 166 days).
- rafael márquez He participated in his fifth World Cup final (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018), becoming the third player to achieve this feat, along with the Mexican Antonio Carbajal (1950, 1954, 1958, 1962 and 1966) and the German Lothar Matthaus (1982, 1986, 1990, 1994 and 1998).
Mexico plays South Korea on Saturday in Rostov-on-don (16:00 BST), while Germany takes on Sweden in Sochi later that day (19:00).