Mexico beat defending champions Germany 1-0 on Sunday in their FIFA World Cup Group F preliminary round football (soccer) match at the 81,000-seater Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
PSV Eindhoven’s Hirving Lozano fired the winner in the 35th minute and Germany were unable to come back after the break, lacking the flowing game that gave them the 2014 title and rather exposing weaknesses in all areas as they lost to Mexico for the first time at a championship.
Germany tried until the dying minutes to turn this game around but for all their possession and efforts, they have been lacking when it came to actually creating chances. This deficit allowed Mexico to sit deep after the break and defend the slim lead they had earned with strong counter-attacking football in the first half.
After Lozano’s goal, Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa pulled off a spectacular save to keep the score level, palming Toni Kroos’ shot onto the crossbar.
Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos was denied by the crossbar and with a curling shot as Joachim Loew’s champions lost for only the second time in a World Cup opener, the other being 2-1 to Algeria in 1982.
“We always thought of having two quick players on the wing. We chose Hirving [Lozano] who is our fastest player. In the first half we managed to play defensively with a great deal of intelligence and hit them on the counter. In the first half of the match we were the superior team. In the second we knew full well that Germany have an outstanding team. We prepared for the use of Mario Gomez up front. Yesterday we practiced defending with four midfielders and three players up front and that was how we almost got the second goal today. Mexico showed that we have a bright future.” Juan Carlos Osorio, Mexico coach said after the game.
“I want to take advantage of this opportunity to dedicate this great result to all the Mexican fans that made the journey out here, to the people behind the scenes and generally who support us. We need to give all the credit where it is due, and that is with the players.” Juan Carlos Osorio, Mexico coach added.
“I don’t know if it’s the biggest [victory in Mexico’s history], but it’s one of the biggest for sure. It’s great to start on the right foot, against the reigning world champions. It’s a great result and shows our hard work. It’s the best goal I’ve scored in my entire life. We all dream of playing in a World Cup – and to start in such a positive and important way – I think it’s my best goal so far.” Man of the Match: Hirving Lozano, who scored the winning goal for Mexico chimed in.
“In the first half we played very badly. We were not able to impose our usual way of playing attacking and our passing. In the second half we were able to press match but Mexico also pulled back. We had a couple of shots on the goal but somehow it seemed jinxed, the ball didn’t go into the net. Of course everyone is unhappy and crestfallen. We have to look forwards, put this behind us. We have to win the next match, it goes without saying. We’re under pressure against Sweden.” Joachim Low, Germany coach said.
They now face an uphill battle in the other Group F games against Sweden in Sochi on Saturday, June 23, and four days later against South Korea as they try to avoid becoming the fourth title holder in the last five World Cups to not survive the group stage, the others being France in 2002, Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014.
While Sweden would no doubt love a repeat of the famous 4-4 clash in Brazil 2014 qualifying, it would be a result which would severely hamper the champions’ hopes of progression.
Germany fail to win their opening match at the World Cup for the first time since 1986, when they drew 1-1 against Uruguay in Querétaro, Mexico. Die Mannschaft eventually went on to reach the final.
Mexico will take on South Korea on Saturday, June 23.
A total of 32 national football teams are participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, held in 11 cities across Russia between June 14 and July 15.
The teams were divided into eight groups, with four in each, and the top two from their relevant groups will proceed to the next round, known as the playoffs or the knockout stage, to keep vying for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy.
Russia is holding its first time ever edition of the FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show at the Luzhniki Stadium on the night of June 14. The World Cup is being held at 12 arenas across 11 cities with the final set to be played at Luzhniki on July 15. The 11 host cities are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.