By Andrew Warshaw in Moscow
June 18 – Somehow Germany always manage to get the job done. Not this time. In the biggest shock so far at the World Cup, the defending champions lost their opening game for only the second time in their history after Mexico pulled off an historic 1-0 win in Moscow – their first ever win over the Germans.
Despite an unconvincing set of warm-up results, Germany invariably come good when it matters most. But Mexico’s movement off the ball and lightning quick counter-attacking gave Joachim Low’s players all kinds of problems.
Mexico’s first-half display was breathless and they fully deserved the halftime lead given to them by Hirving Lozano who turned Mesut Ozil before finishing with aplomb.
German captain Manuel Neuer had already saved from Hector Herrera and Hector Moreno and although Tony Kroos’ free kick was pushed on to the bar Germany were distinctly second best.
Not surprisingly, Low’s halftime teammate talk led to Germany charging forward for most of the second period but they were always vulnerable to penetrating counter-attacks and Mexico might easily have doubled their lead.
The biggest cheer of the night from the thousands of noisy green-clad Mexico fans came with the introduction of the veteran Rafael Marquez who, at 39, equalled the record of fellow Mexican Antonio Carbajal and Germany’s Lothar Matthaus by playing in a fifth World Cup.
Pandemonium broke out at the final whistle as Mexico held on to inflict a first World Cup defeat on Die Mannschaft since they lost to Spain in the 2010 semi-final.
Low admitted afterwards that he never expected such a below-par performance and such lack of composure, his team unable to cope with Mexico’s rapid counter-attacks.
“In the first half, we played very badly. We were not able to impose our usual way of playing, attacking, and there were lots of counter-attacks against us and we were very vulnerable.
“In the second half, we were able to press more, but Mexico drew back and then carried the ball forward fast. We had a couple of shouts, but it seemed jinxed and the ball did not go into the goal. Everybody is really unhappy and crestfallen but we have to put this behind us. Our team has experience of losses.”
Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio was, by contrast, ecstatic: “We played with bravery when it was needed and also defended with all of our hearts.”
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