Toni Kroos, Marco Reus and Robin Olsen were the ones to make a difference on the day as Germany eked out a 2-1 win over Sweden to keep their World Cup campaign alive.
Germany received a major shock in the opening half of the game. Needing a win to keep their hopes alive and not in the hands of anyone else, Germany were in full throttle when Ola Toivonen got on the end of a Viktor Claesson ball before applying a deft finish over Manuel Neuer to give Sweden a shock lead.
Sweden could have had the lead earlier on a contentious foul by Jerome Boateng, which will be a huge talking point post-match, with reports that VAR had informed the referee of the foul but he decided to ignore the situation.
Marco Reus diffused the situation with an opportune goal in the beginning of the second half. Thereafter, Germany kept knocking on Swedish doors to no avail as it seemed like the holders would have to make do with a draw.
Toni Kroos though, had other ideas, with a 95th minute curler from an acute angle from the free-kick to net home the winner. We take a look from three players who shined in the game as Germany kept their World Cup campaign alive.
It has been a disastrous campaign for Toni Kroos thus far. And his campaign seemed to have been spiralling when he lost the ball in the midfield that led to the counter and ultimately, Sweden’s opener. Despite Reus equalizing, it looked like Kroos’s mistake would cost Germany their World Cup campaign.
But, he kept prodding at the goal while also trying several balls to put teammates through on goal. It was to be Kroos’s redemption though, as the Real Madrid man stepped up to take the free-kick deep in stoppage time before curling it home past Robin Olsen.
Toni Kroos will be relieved more than anything to have seen Germany home against Sweden and will hope the holders put up a more spirited display against South Korea.
2 – Marco Reus (1 goal, 1 assist) is the first German player involved in two goals on his first World Cup start since 2010 (Thomas Müller v Australia). Overdue. pic.twitter.com/oS1msP6nyw
— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) June 23, 2018
There were calls to start Marco Reus and Joachim Low gave the fans what they wanted, with Reus taking Ozil’s place in the starting eleven. The decision seemed to be backfiring after the first half, with Reus unable to have much of an impact as Germany struggled to get past the Swedish defence.
But, a rejuvenated Reus took the field in the second half and the difference was there for all to see. Germany attacked from the get-go and the Borussia Dortmund man delivered the goods in the 48th minute with a deft goal. But, that wasn’t it.
With Julian Brandt hitting the post and several other shots not finding the back of the net, it seemed like Germany would be condemned to a draw. But, Reus had a major part to play in the Kroos goal, teeing up the ball nicely for Kroos to apply the finish.
A goal and an assist in his first start at the World Cup, Reus showed the world just how important he can be for Germany.
That Marco Reus strike was the first time Robin Olsen has conceded a goal for Sweden in 548 minutes.
Can Germany find another? Can Sweden hit back?
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) June 23, 2018
If there’s one player in the Swedish camp who will feel hard done by with the late winner from Kroos, it is their goalkeeper Robin Olsen. The custodian was up to the task at every effort Germany managed at his goal. Olsen couldn’t do much for Germany’s first goal as a deflection took Reus’s goal away towards the bottom corner.
But, Olsen produced an exhilarating performance and had a man of the match worthy display up until the 95th minute. The 28-year-old will now be focused on the Mexico game in order to push Sweden to the knockouts.