Reigning champions Germany began their title defence with a shock defeat to Mexico in the opening match of Group F on Sunday.
Germany were undone by Mexico's counter-attacking exploits and a Hirving Lozano strike mid-way through the first-half proved to be the difference. Mexico were worthy of the three points but Germany were bitterly disappointing and the poor form they carried into the tournament continued.
Mexico sprang out the traps early on and were very close to opening the scoring within the first minute of the match. Lozano was slipped through on goal but was subsequently denied by a superb sliding tackle from Jerome Boateng. The resulting corner pin-balled around the box before Manuel Neuer put his gloves on it.
Germany responded quickly and a few minutes later they were almost in themselves. Joshua Kimmich spotted the run of the pacy Timo Werner and played him down the right channel but the young RB Leipzig striker could only guide his effort wide of the goal.
After a nervous start, Germany's influence on the game began to grow. Their second chance of the match fell to Mats Hummels after Mexico failed to clear their lines but the Bayern centre-back scuffed his shot into the ground and Guillermo Ochoa could gather easily.
This dominance was briefly interrupted when Neuer was called into action for the first time 10 minutes in. The German custodian dealt with a long-range strike from Herrera brilliantly, making the save look a whole lot easier than it was in reality, gathering it into his arms. Mexico were buoyed by this chance and suddenly started to get a foothold on the match. El Trio forced Neuer into another save minutes later, this time from a Hector Moreno header from a deep free-kick.
This was your typical 'end-to-end' match and the action was relentless, thanks in part to Mexico's excellent counter attacks. Javier Hernandez had a golden opportunity to score midway through the first-half, but he took too long in the Germany box and was immediately shut down by the defence. Germany then went up the other end and Werner found space in the box, only to guide an effort straight down the centre of the goal.
Mercifully, the pace of the game began to slow but the chances kept on coming and it was Mexico who finally opened the scoring 35 minutes in. Hernandez found himself one on one with Boating but he kept his composure to slip in Lozano. The PSV winger was the coolest man in the stadium as he rode a flying challenge from Joshua Kimmich to then slam home a superb finish past the helpless Neuer.
GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL Mexico!!!!— 90min (@90min_Football) June 17, 2018
But Die Mannschaft aren't the reigning champions for nothing and they were very close to equalising two minutes later, only to be denied by a world class save from Ochoa. Toni Kroos whipped in a wonderful free-kick, but the flamboyant keeper was able to fling himself across his goal to tip the goal-bound effort onto the bar.
Carlos Vela had the final chance of the half as he looked to finish off a speedy counter attack but he could only fire wide.
Germany knew that they had to massively improve if they were avoid defeat in their opening match of their title defence and early on in the second half they looked to dominate possession of the ball, creating the occasional half-chance from distance in the process.
But Mexico opened up Germany from a counter-attack just as they did so many times in the first-half and should have been two ahead 55 minutes in. Hernandez and Vela were through on goal but the latter couldn't quite find his compatriot with a through ball and Germany were able to recover to win back the ball.
Mexico broke and had a two-on-one, bad final ball. They could have killed it there...— 90min (@90min_Football) June 17, 2018
The pace of the match was no where near as electric compared to the first 45 minutes and chances were more far and few between. For some reason, Boating found himself out on the right-wing just after the hour mark and he delivered a delicious looking cross to find Kimmich of all people who attempted a spectacular overhead kick which dropped just over the bar.
Slowly but surely, Germany were getting into their rhythm and Mexico began to retreat deeper into their own half. The next person to miss a golden opportunity was Werner, who was only able to shank a volley well over, despite the fact that he was just five yards away from the Mexico goal.
The threat of the Mexico counter-attack never disappeared however and Hernandez found himself through on goal, but his tired legs couldn't take him away from Mats Hummels who put the West Ham striker under enough pressure to fairly force him off the ball.
Whatever Germany chucked at Mexico, they seemed to waste. Crosses were flung into the box over and over but Mexico seemed to have an answer for everything.
Germany are knocking... 😬— 90min (@90min_Football) June 17, 2018
Mexico continued to mount counter-attacks and they should have doubled their lead on a number of occasions, particularly when Miguel Layun was played through on goal with ten minutes left on the clock, only for the ex-Watford man to fire in a tired effort well wide of the mark.
The Mexican defensive effort was herculean with Ochoa remaining at the heart of it. He repelled another effort from Tony Kroos with sound handlinglate on and Germany had a guilt edged chance moments later as substitute Mario Gomez headed wide from just yards out.
A pulsating finish to the match continued and Julian Brandt came close to equalising just before the end of the match with a half-volley that whistled wide of the target. It was to be the last of the action as Mexico held on for a historic win.