Germany Edge Sweden Thanks to Late Toni Kroos Stunner

Toni Kroos
SOCHI, RUSSIA - JUNE 23: Toni Kroos of Germany scores his team's second goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Germany and Sweden at Fisht Stadium on June 23, 2018 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Germany got their World Cup campaign going with a late, late win over Sweden. Ola Toivonen put Sweden ahead in the first-half with a magnificent lob. However, Marco Reus equalised two minutes into the second half. It took until the 95th minute, but the Germans won it late on when Toni Kroos curled in a stunning free-kick to send Sochi into delirium.

Toni Kroos Stunner Wins Extraordinary Game For Germany

Sweden will feel as though they should have had a penalty early on in the game. Al Ain striker Marcus Berg was played in on goal and, despite his shot being blocked by Manuel Neuer, Berg was clattered from behind by Jerome Boateng. The Sweden fans and players furiously pleaded for a VAR review, but none came and the game went on.

However, they didn’t need to wait long to take the lead over the world champions. FC Krasnodar midfielder Viktor Claesson curled in a peach of a pass to Ola Toivonen, who chested the ball down and dinked a perfect lob over the on-rushing Neuer. Sweden fully deserved their lead after holding firm in their defence and threatening Germany on the counter-attack.

Germany almost levelled eight minutes later. Ilkay Gundogan’s deflected shot was well-saved by Robin Olsen, and Thomas Muller’s rebound hit the keeper while he was down before trickling agonisingly past the post.

Quick out of the Blocks

It took the Germans just three minutes of the second half to register their response. Timo Werner’s cross bounced all the way to the back post, and Marco Reus got in front of his marker to knee the ball beyond Olsen and into the bottom corner.

Germany continued to press for a winner, knowing that the single point would leave them in a perilous position going into the final group game. However, they could not turn their 74% possession into any clear-cut chances.

Sweden were firmly on the back-foot for the vast majority of the half. The closest they came to regaining their lead was a well-struck volley from Emil Forsberg, but he couldn’t stretch Neuer to making anything more than a comfortable save.

Germany’s task became harder when Jerome Boateng was sent off for a second yellow card with ten minutes left.

They had two big chances to win it just before stoppage time. A pin-point cross was met perfectly by substitute Mario Gomez, but his header was magnificently tipped over the bar by Olsen. Two minutes later, Julian Brandt rattled the Sweden post with a pile-driving half-volley.

However, those misses did not matter in the end. A neat free-kick routine from Germany resulted in Kroos whipping the ball into the far corner, beyond the outstretched arm of Olsen. Sochi erupted, and suddenly, the Group F table looks a little more pleasing for Germany going into their final game against South Korea.

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