It’s unclear what threats or magic coach Joachim Low used at halftime but the German team that returned to the field wasn’t the same one and Sweden was lucky to have lost only 2-1. The winning goal by Toni Kroos came towith about 30 seconds left in stoppage time.
Germany showed flashes of the well-oiled machine that humiliated host nation Brazil four years ago –minus the finishing–and went on to win the Soccer World Cup. The Germans had at least seven good scoring opportunities in the second half today.
In other World Cup action today, Mexico beat South Korea 2-1 and Belgium crushed a courageous Tunisia team that played until the final whistle, 5-2.
But Germany versus Sweden was the big game to watch.
The vaunted team, intensely scrutinized and criticized by the German press first seemed destined to an embarrassing defeat, then to an ignoble tie, before the tournament saver for them came from Kroos.
The Germans turned the game around by winning most of the contested possessions. They were able to make more passes and move in formation, then set up attempts once they reached about 30 yards from the Swedish goal.
Most of the plays involved crosses from the right wing, a few of which were misheaded, some of which were thwarted by Swedish goalkeeper Robin Olsen’s spectacular saves, while others were completely missed and rolled, tantalizingly but harmlessly, in front of the goal line.
It was a miracle for Sweden that the game was tied 1-1 going into the five minutes of stoppage time.
Sweden had taken a 1-0 lead into halftime on a spectacular goal after intercepting a lazy German pass. The Swedes quickly moved the ball into the right side of the penalty box box with a drop pass from Victor Claesson. The German goalie, Manuel Neuer, seemed to cut off completely any scoring angle. But after cheating the ball, Ola Toivonen, quickly half-volleyed, delicately. The ball, after it had ascended above Neuer, dropped down sharply and beneath the crossbar into the goal.
The Germans went to the intermission with heavy hearts.
But it was all Germany in the second half. They quickly equalized when the ball was crossed from the left wing into the box and Marco Reus caught it on his knee, deflecting it past Neuer into the back of the net.
Thereafter, the Germans dominated, keeping the ball for most of the rest of the game in the Swedish half. As the Swedes endured one attack after the next it seemed only a matter of time before they would yield.
The Germans kept pressing even when key defender and steady anchor Jerome Boateng was kicked off in eighty-second minute after earning a second yellow card for a foul.
The Germans were denied time and again, including when a resounding shot by Julian Brandt in the dying minutes smashed into the left corner of the crossbar.
Then with about half-a-minute left in the official five-minutes stoppage time, the Germans were awarded a free kick outside the penalty box on the left side.
Kroos tapped the ball forward a little to Reus who halted it for him; it provided the momentum on the ball that let Kroos smash a bending ball that arched back into the goal only after it had cleared the fingertips of goalie Olsen.
Just like that Germany was back.