- Germany, the reigning World Cup champion, was eliminated from the tournament with a 2-0 loss to South Korea on Wednesday.
- A video-assistant-referee review overturned an offside call on the field to give South Korea the first goal of the match, in the 91st minute.
- It’s the fourth time in the past five tournaments that the reigning champion has failed to escape the group stage in the subsequent World Cup.
- South Korea’s win was a huge boost to Mexico, advancing it through to the knockout stage.
With Germany’s 2-0 loss to South Korea on Wednesday, the reigning champion is officially out of the 2018 World Cup.
A late game-winner against Sweden on Saturday breathed life into Germany’s hopes of a repeat. But Germany came out with an uninspired effort against South Korea, and its failure came in especially gut-wrenching fashion.
Germany was getting the help it needed from elsewhere in the group. With Sweden handily beating Mexico, all Germany needed was a win to advance to the knockout round over El Tri. But South Korea refused to break, as the two sides played to a scoreless standstill for 90 minutes.
Then, in the 91st minute, South Korea struck, putting the ball in the back of the net amid the chaos of a corner kick. But as the South Korean side began to celebrate, the sideline official raised his flag to indicate the play was offside.
South Korean players pleaded their case, and the decision went to review – likely the most consequential decision left to the new video-assistant-referee system thus far in the tournament.
The decision on the field was overturned, and South Korea was awarded a goal to go ahead 1-0. Later in stoppage time, South Korea added another goal when Son Heung-min broke free on a long ball and scored into an empty net, taking the game and eliminating the reigning champion.
The match resolved a tense day of scoreboard watching for Mexico and its supporters. After Sweden took its lead, and with a heavily favoured German side still sitting scoreless with South Korea, El Tri was just one German goal away from elimination, despite winning its first two matches of the group stage.
Germany finished at the bottom of its group for the first time in World Cup history. It is also the fourth time in the past five World Cups that the champ has failed to escape the group stage of the subsequent tournament.
But thanks to South Korea’s upset win, Mexico is on to the knockout round, where it will attempt to break a curse that has haunted the team for over 30 years.
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