Toni Kroos’ inch-perfect free-kick deep in injury time broke Swedish hearts as 10-man Germany eked out a thrilling 2-1 win in their 2018 FIFA World Cup Group F encounter at the Fisht Stadium on Saturday.
The usually unflappable Kroos had made a costly error in the first-half, giving away possession which allowed Ola Toivonen to give the Swedes the lead in the 32nd minute itself.
Die Mannschaft, the defending champions, had been below par in their opener and their loss to Mexico was well deserved but it looked like they hadn’t learnt their lessons for had it been another day, they could have been 2-0 down by half-time.
Sweden were denied almost a stonewall penalty after a blunder by Antonio Rudiger and at the itnerval, Joachim Loew was forced into making a change.
Marco Reus had started after his lively cameo against the Mexicans, but it was the disappointing Julian Dralxer who got the boot, with Mario Gomez coming on.
Timo Werner moved wide and the move paid immediate dividends, for the Red Bull Leipzig man set up Reus for the equaliser in the 48th minute itself.
Suddenly, Germany had rediscovered their swagger and they were literally camped in Sweden’s half but for the moment the Scandinavians stood firm, thanks in part to their inspired shot-stopper Robin Olsen and their resolute defence marshalled by skipper Andreas Granqvist.
Disaster struck for the Germans as Jerome Boateng’s miserable night got worse as he was sent off for a scything challenge with less than 10 minutes left in the tie.
It looked like Joachim Loew’s men would hang on for a point at best then, but it was left to Kroos to redeem himself with a masterly set-piece from out wide in the 95th minute.
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Werner was key once again, winning the free-kick on the left side of the box, and the way Germany celebrated showed how much the win meant to them and they will certainly approach their final group-stage tie against South Korea like a team reborn.
Mexico, after beating the Koreans 2-1 earlier in the day, top the group with six points while Germany and Sweden have three apiece with all sides having played two games.