Koreans send Germany packing

 South Korea's Kim Young-gwon celebrates scoring their first goal. Reuters photo
Highlights: 
Title defence ends with 2-0 loss to South Korea
Germany exit in first round for first time in 80 years
Sweden thrash Mexico 3-0 but both teams qualify

 

Champions Germany were sent crashing out of the World Cup after suffering a stunning 2-0 defeat by a tenacious South Korea on Wednesday that saw them eliminated in the first round for the first time in 80 years.

Germany would have progressed with a win at the Kazan Arena but barely looked capable of scoring against the Koreans, let alone going on to successfully defend the title they won in Brazil four years ago.

Stoppage-time goals from Kim Young-gwon and Son Heung-min finished off Joachim Loew's sorry Germany side, who finished bottom of the group on three points.

They have won four World Cup titles and also finished runners-up four times and entered this year's tournament heavily backed to retain their title.

Instead they will head home after a stunning failure, having been unable to break down the South Koreans and after a shock 1-0 loss to Mexico in their opening group match.

Sweden won the group after thrashing the Mexicans 3-0.

Germany's Toni Kroos, the free kick hero in the 2-1 win over Sweden, tried desperately to spark his side into action in the second half but was denied by South Korea's heroic Cho Hyun-woo in the 88th minute, one of a number of fine saves by the keeper.

But it was Kim Young-gwon who broke the deadlock in added time when he found himself alone in front of goal after a corner and he poked the ball home from close range.

Moments later Son sprinted to retrieve a long ball, with Germany keeper Neuer having left his goal to try to help his side get a goal, and the Korean striker fired a low shot into the net to wrap up the win and leave the Germans distraught.

Germany were thus eliminated from a World Cup in the first round for the first time since the Second World War. Leaving aside Uruguay -- who won the inaugural World Cup in 1930 before not travelling to Italy for the 1934 edition -- it is the sixth time in the history of the competition that the reigning champions have failed to make it past the first hurdle.

Italy had won back-to-back World Cups before the Second World War got in the way, and much had changed by the time the 1950 tournament came around in Brazil.

Out of shape after the long journey by sea, the Italians played just two matches, losing 3-2 to Sweden before beating Paraguay 2-0. Sweden topped the group, and Italy went home.

Pele's great Brazil side rocked up in England having won the previous two World Cups. They would win the 1970 trophy too, but 1966 was a disaster.

France came to the World Cup in Japan and South Korea with a wonderful side that had won the trophy on home soil in 1998 and then won the European Championship in 2000.

However, nothing went right for Les Bleus as they went home with their tails between their legs having failed to score a goal never mind win a game.

After the miracle of 2006, when the Azzurri won the trophy in Germany despite the chaos being caused in their domestic game by the Calciopoli scandal, 2010 in South Africa was a spectacular disaster for the Italians.

The presence of veterans like Gianluigi Buffon and Fabio Cannavaro and that of Marcello Lippi on the bench could not prevent Italy from being humbled in the group stage as they failed to win any of their matches.

The curse of the champions struck again four years ago in Brazil, as Spain's all-conquering side were stopped in their tracks.
 

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Koreans send Germany packing

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