South Korea shocked the 2014 champions by eliminating Germany out of the group stage for the first time in their World Cup history.

By Luis Miguel Echegaray
June 27, 2018

Germany's World Cup title defense didn't even make it out of the group stage.

Needing a win to stay alive, and only a goal away from advancement thanks to Sweden's rout of Mexico, Germany capitulated, missing chances and conceding twice to South Korea in stoppage time to fall 2-0 and secure a last-place finish in Group F and a one-way ticket home. It marked the first time in the four-time champions' history that they've been eliminated in the group stage.

Sweden wound up winning the group, while Mexico goes through in second thanks to the assist by South Korea–which did the USA a similar solid in 2002 in propelling the Concacaf nation to the knockout stage by virtue of a result in a separate, simultaneous group finale. 

The match started with South Korea playing a high press against Germany, hoping it would catch Joachim Low's side off guard right from the get go. But thanks to Mesut Ozil's patience and creativity in the middle, the holding World Cup champions were slowly finding their own rhythm. 

Most of the action was coming from the wide areas as Joshua Kimmich threatened from the right and looking to find his teammates in the box but South Korea's backling stood strong. In the 17th minute, however, Shin Tae-yong's team was awarded a free kick 40 yards out of the box after a high challenge from Germany. It went straight into the hands of Manuel Neuer, but he couldn't hold it, giving South Korea a chance to score, but the attempt from Son Heung-min went wide.   

Another South Korean attempt from inside the box went over the bar, but it was another warning sign for Germany as its opponent was not backing down. Germany was still dominating possession and more control in the final third but just couldn't find extra space in the box. Kimmich was working hard, crossing and looking for Timo Werner but with no avail.     

The first half ended in a stalemate as a physical South Korea, who was also looking to get out of the group stage, frustrated Germany despite the dominance in possession. But due to another 0-0 at the break between Mexico and Sweden, Low's side - for the moment - looked good for the knockout stage.

The second half started with Germany on the front foot when a fantastic cross found Leon Goretzka, but forced a great save from Cho Hyun-woo.

Germany kept pushing for a goal, and fans were getting more anxious as Mexico fell behind 2-0 to Sweden, meaning that Germany needed a win to advance. But time and time again, South Korea was now placing more men at the back, working on the counter.  

With 20 minutes to go, the Germans fed more men in the final third with South Korea holding on. In the 77th minute, Son Heung-min had a great chance to take the lead but his shot went wide. In the 82nd minute, Marco Reus found some space just outside the box but his shot went above the goal as it showed no threat. Another shot from Toni Kroos, who was very quiet throughout, went high into the stands, and time was running out.

The best chance of the half came for Mats Hummels who was wide open in the box, thanks to fantastic cross from the right wing. But he completely misjudged it and his header went far wide. Kroos, the hero against Sweden, also had a great shot, but once again, he did not connect properly. 

South Korea then put Germany to the sword in stoppage time–with the help of technology. South Korea thought it had scored after a corner when Kim Young-Gwon put it in the back of the net, but he was originally ruled offside. American referee Mark Geiger went to the video to check, though, and VAR confirmed he was indeed onside, giving South Korea the lead two minutes into added time.

After the goal, Germany had to commit practically everything for the equalizer but at the cost of leaving no one behind–including Neuer. South Korea countered by playing Son into a breakaway with an empty net, and the Tottenham star finished the game–and Germany's stay in Russia–with another goal.

You can read our recap from the other Group F finale between Mexico and Sweden here.


Here were the lineups for both teams:


Here are the rosters for both sides:

SOUTH KOREA

Goalkeepers: Kim Seung-gyu (Vissel Kobe), Kim Jin-hyeon (Cerezo Osaka), Cho Hyun-woo (Daegu FC)

Defenders: Kim Young-gwon (Guangzhou Evergrande), Jang Hyun-soo (FC Tokyo), Jung Seung-hyun (Sagan Tosu), Yun Yong-sun (Seongnam FC), Oh Ban-suk (Jeju United), Kim Min-woo (Sangju Sangmu), Park Joo-ho (Ulsan Hyundai), Hong Chul (Sangju Sangmu), Go Yo-han (FC Seoul), Lee Yong (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors)

Midfielders: Ki Sung-yueng (Swansea City), Jung Woo-young (Vissel Kobe), Ju Se-jong (Asan Mugunghwa FC), Koo Ja-cheol (FC Augsburg), Lee Jae-sung (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Lee Seung-woo (Hellas Verona), Moon Seon-min (Incheon United)

Forwards: Kim Shin-wook (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Son Heung-min (Tottenham), Hwang Hee-chan (FC Red Bull Salzburg)

Manager: Shin Tae-yong

GERMANY

Goalkeepers: Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Kevin Trapp (Paris Saint-Germain)

Defenders: Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich), Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Antonio Ruediger (Chelsea), Niklas Suele (Bayern Munich), Marvin Plattenhardt (Hertha Berlin), Matthias Ginter (Borussia Monchengladbach)

Midfielders: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Julian Draxler (Paris Saint-Germain), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Leon Goretzka (Schalke), Sebastian Rudy (Bayern Munich), Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen)

Forwards: Mario Gomez (Stuttgart), Timo Werner (Leipzig)

Manager: Jogi Low

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