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Mexico stun Germany in die Mannschaft’s first World Cup game

Mexico stunned World Cup holders Germany on Sunday, inflicting a 1-0 defeat that throws the Germans' title defence into disarray as Neymar's Brazil stuttered to a draw against Switzerland.

Mexico stun Germany in die Mannschaft's first World Cup game
Fans of the German World Cup team watching the game on Sunday. Photo: DPA

The outstanding Hirving Lozano smashed home the Mexican winner in the 35th minute at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, leaving Manuel Neuer clutching at thin air on his return to the German goal after a nine-month injury absence.

Toni Kroos crashed a shot against the crossbar for Germany but they were never able to get back into the match as they slid to their first defeat in their opening game of a World Cup since 1982.

“I don't know if it's the biggest win in Mexico's history but doubtless it is one of the biggest for sure,” said 22-year-old Lozano. 

Lozano's winner made the earth move in Mexico City, where seismologists detected a minor tremor possibly caused by “widespread jumping during the goal.”

Germany coach Joachim Löw did not mince his words about his side's performance, saying his team had played “very badly” in the first half of the Group F tie.

“We weren't able to impose our usual way of playing, our attacking and passing was not effective,” he said.

“It goes without saying that the next match will be decisive for us, we have to win it,” Löw added ahead of his team's next game against Sweden next Saturday.

If Germany finish as group runners-up, they could face Brazil in a clash of World Cup titans in the next round — a perfect chance for the Brazilians to avenge the humiliating 7-1 defeat to the Germans on home soil in 2014.

Brazil, and their star Neymar, made their bow in Russia in Rostov-on-Don but gutsy Switzerland battled back to cancel out a Philippe Coutinho strike midway through the first half of the Group E tie.

The Barcelona man found the top corner with a stunning curled effort in the 20th minute but Steven Zuber headed an equaliser from a corner shortly after half time and the five-time champions could not make their superior quality count.

Coach Tite blamed first night nerves.

“I'm not happy with this result. Our finishing wasn't good. We had 20 chances, but too many shots were off target. We should have made their keeper work harder than that.

“I put it down to stress, first match nerves, that's true for me too,” the Brazil boss said.

Four years after injury cut short his World Cup — Brazil suffered that defeat to Germany without him — Neymar is once again spearheading his country's hopes.

 
The Paris Saint-Germain striker's participation at the finals in Russia had been cast into doubt after he suffered a broken bone in his right foot in late February.
 
However, the 26-year-old forward has shown few signs of rustiness since returning for Brazil, scoring in consecutive friendlies in the buildup to the finals and started on Sunday.

German disarray

Germany had breezed through qualifying, scoring 43 goals and conceding just four.

 
Löw has, like the Brazilians, transformed the team from 2014 to the extent that the man who scored the World Cup winning goal in Rio, Mario Götze, is not in the squad.
 
But his plans to become only the third side in the World Cup's 88-year history to successfully defend their title were in disarray on Sunday after the Mexicans tore into his defence from the start.
 
Mexico only lost one game in qualifying and have reached at least the second round of every World Cup they have played.
 
In the first game of the day, Serbia beat Costa Rica 1-0 thanks to a brilliant Aleksandar Kolarov free-kick in Samara.
 
The victory puts Serbia in a strong early position in Group E ahead of games against Brazil and Switzerland as they look to reach the last 16 for the first time since becoming an independent country.
 
Away from the football, Russian authorities said a taxi driver who ploughed into pedestrians on a crowded pavement near Red Square in Moscow on Saturday, injuring at least seven people, had been suffering from exhaustion.
 
The taxi driver, a 28-year-old man from the central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan, told police during questioning that he had been working for 20 hours solid before the incident and had mixed up the brake pedal and the accelerator.
 

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FOOTBALL

Sweden into World Cup semis after ending German hoodoo

Stina Blackstenius scored the winner as Sweden came from behind to stun old rivals Germany on Saturday and set up a women's World Cup semi-final against the Netherlands.

Sweden into World Cup semis after ending German hoodoo
Photo: AP Photo/David Vincent/TT

Sweden had not beaten Germany at a major women's tournament since the 1995 World Cup, failing to win any of their subsequent meetings at World Cups, European Championships and Olympics in almost quarter of a century.

That run included defeats in the 2003 World Cup final and the gold medal match at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but they gained revenge in Rennes, coming from behind to win their quarter-final 2-1.

Lina Magull had given Germany a 16th-minute lead with a fine finish from a Sara Däbritz assist, but the excellent Sofia Jakobsson equalised soon after on a hot evening in Brittany.

The winner arrived three minutes after half-time, with Blackstenius prodding home the rebound after Almuth Schult had saved a Fridolina Rolfö header.

Despite bringing on star player Dszenifer Marozsan, who had missed the
previous three games with a broken toe, Germany remained blunt as the clock
ticked down.

Blackstenius had scored Sweden's winner against Canada in the last round and also netted against the Germans in that Olympic final defeat in 2016.

“We have talked about the possibilities here for us to go far and win every game,” said a bullish Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson.

“There's not a single mitochondria in us that's content. We're going to go for it.”

The Germans will now be deprived of the chance to defend their Olympic title, with defeat here meaning they fail to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games. Sweden will join the Netherlands and Great Britain — who have qualified thanks to England's World Cup run — at the Games instead.

“We are now qualified for the Olympics. That is one thing that has been hanging over our heads for a while,” said Gerhardsson.

Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg told ARD: “The defeat hurts, but we are in a process. We will grow from this experience.”

Sweden go on to a semi-final encounter with the Dutch in Lyon on Wednesday, and they will have a score to settle there too, having lost to the Netherlands at Euro 2017.

The 'Oranje' went on to win that tournament and have coped well in France with their status as reigning European champions.

The tournament now switches for the closing stages to Lyon — home to Europe's top women's club side — with holders the United States and England facing off in the first semi-final on Tuesday.

Megan Rapinoe's double strike gave the USA a 2-1 win over France on Friday, ending the hosts' dream of winning the trophy on home soil.

England reached their second successive World Cup semi-final with a straightforward 3-0 win over Norway on Thursday.

READ ALSO: Italy lose out to Dutch in bid to reach World Cup semi-finals

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