MOSCOW, Russia, June 18 – Mexico’s gameplan worked to perfection after they ran out 1-0 winners over defending World Cup champions Germany in a Group F match at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, on Sunday night.
After the match Mexican coach Juan Carlos Osorio was elated. “We set out to catch them on the break using two wingers, including Hirving Lozano, who is our fastest player”
Germany joined other World Cup champions who suffered first-round losses including Italy (1950), Argentina (1982 and 1990), France (2002) and Spain (2014).
For Mexico, Rafael Marquez became just the third player ever to feature at five different World Cups.
The other two were Marquez’s compatriot Antonio Carbajal (1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966) and, curiously enough, a German: Lothar Matthaus (1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998).
The crucial moment at the Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday came when a lightning counter-attack was finished off by Mexico’s Hirving Lozano meaning Joachim Low’s German side will have to tighten up defensively before taking on Sweden in their next Group match – or else face an early exit.
Everything clicked perfectly for El Tri, who held firm at the back and capitalised on the Germans’ frailties to constantly threaten on the counter-attack.
Meanwhile, Brazil, another of the big favourites for the crown, did not learn from Germany’s lesson and were frustrated by Switzerland.
Trailing to Philippe Coutinho’s superb curling effort, Die Nati hit back through Steven Zuber’s header to repeat the feat of 1950, when the Swiss held the Brazilians to a 2-2 draw in the countries’ only other meeting at the competition.
Coutinho’s strike was a beauty, but Aleksandar Kolarov’s free-kick winner for Serbia against Costa Rica was no less so.
Costa Rica were one of the sensations of the 2014 tournament, enjoying a dream run to the quarterfinals before being beaten on penalties by the Netherlands, but they too realised that past exploits count for nothing.
Kolarov’s stunner not only earned Serbia three points: it will have also gone a long way towards healing the country’s wounds from their only previous campaign at the global extravaganza, in 2010, when they finished bottom of their group. (ANA)