Germany Stuns Sweden With Winning Goal In 95th Minute, Keep Hopes Alive

A dramatic stoppage-time goal from Toni Kroos gave holders Germany a 2-1 win over Sweden on Saturday to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup last 16.

Germany Stuns Sweden With Winning Goal In 95th Minute, Keep Hopes Alive
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A dramatic stoppage-time goal from Toni Kroos gave holders Germany a 2-1 win over Sweden on Saturday to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup last 16.

Germany needed all 95 minutes to get the result it needed. Now it heads into its final group-stage match against South Korea with an easier path to the knockout stages.

On the brink of disaster after an opening-match loss to Mexico, Germany entered its contest against Sweden on Saturday in desperate need of a response.

Before kickoff, Mexico beat South Korea to improve its total to six points. Germany wasn't just looking up at Mexico and its six points in the Group F standings, it was also trailing Sweden and its three points. If Sweden won, Germany, the defending champions, would fail to advance from its group at the World Cup for the first time ever, which would also mark the third straight World Cup that's seen the reigning champs succumb in the group stage.

From the beginning, Germany imposed its will on the match. The Germans dominated possession and created strong scoring chances from the get-go with mechanical build-up play, but once again, they proved to be susceptible to the counter attack.

Sweden got its goal not long after. In the 32nd minute, after a bad giveaway by Germany, Ola Toivonen made a slicing run through the backline and was played in beautifully by Viktor Claesson. Toivonen used a chip to beat a charging Neuer. And like that, Sweden took a 1-0 lead and pushed Germany to the edge of the cliff.

Germany responded with chance after chance after chance, but was continually denied at the goal line by key deflections and saves. Frustration mounted.

If not for a brilliant save at the far post by Neuer on the final play of the first half, Germany would've faced a 2-0 deficit. If not for that save, Marco Reus' goal in the 48th minute wouldn't have knotted up the score. But Neuer made the save and Reus' goal, coming off a cross, a deflection, and ultimately, his knee, tied the game at 1-1.

A tie would give Germany another game to make up Sweden's point advantage. A win, though, would bring them level with Sweden in the group standings. Blood was in the water, and Germany smelled it. Sweden, meanwhile, was reduced to survival mode as Germany pushed numbers forward.

But the breakthrough didn't come. Sweden staved off attack after attack after attack, and counter-punched with a couple attacks of their own. The drama intensified in the 82nd minute when Boateng, playing with a yellow card, made a reckless challenge and earned, in every sense of the word, a second yellow card. Germany was reduced to 10 men for the final 13 minutes.

On the resulting free kick, Sweden nearly took the lead, but Neuer kept Germany alive with a stumbling save. On the other end, in the 88th minute, Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen denied a point-blank header by somehow reacting in time to push the ball over the bar. Sweden survived the German attack, again, but only just barely.

Five minutes were added on. Sweden, despite being up a man, was just trying to hold on for dear life. In the 92nd minute, Julian Brandt fired a rocket from the top of the box and beat Olsen, but the post denied him of a game-winning and tournament-changing goal. In the final minute of stoppage time, Germany drew a free kick at the edge of the box.

The angle didn't matter to Toni Kroos. He tapped the ball forward to his teammate, who set the ball in place for him. With pitch-perfect precision, Kroos whipped the ball toward the far post. The ball found the back of the net. The breakthrough came. Germany got the goal it needed.

As a result, Germany is now tied with Sweden in second place in Group F with three points. Both teams trail Mexico by three points. Meanwhile, South Korea with zero points, is still alive. In the final matches of Group F, Mexico will take on Sweden while Germany will face South Korea, with both coming on Wednesday.

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