Mexico vs. Sweden 2018 World Cup: Sweden, Mexico advance as Germany bows out
Sweden 3, Mexico 0
Group F, Ekaterinburg Arena, Ekaterinburg
Sweden’s impressive 3-0 win over Mexico set the stage for a different sort of late-game drama. Because chaos broke out as jubilant Mexican fans learned that South Korea had beaten Germany 2-0, keeping Mexico alive despite its loss and eliminating Germany, the defending champion.
Things had taken a bad turn for Mexico as Sweden scored on an own goal off Edson Alvarez in the 75th minute, putting already anxious fans were on edge. Sweden led, 3-0, and Mexico’s chances of advancement were in peril, resting squarely on the shoulders of South Korea. With South Korea’s victory over Germany, though, both Mexico and Sweden, the Group F winner, advanced to the knockout stage.
In the 59th minute, Hector Moreno brings down Marcus Berg and is slapped with a yellow card, his second of the tournament. The result: Andreas Grandqvist puts the ball into the net on a penalty kick for a 2-0 lead.
Mikael Lustig draws a yellow card, the fifth of the match, in the 87th minute, but Hirving Lozano can’t convert.
Sweden has had the better chances in this wildly entertaining game and finally converts in the 49th minute as Ludwig Augustinsson breaks through with a goal that gives Sweden a 1-0 lead over Mexico and life in the World Cup. The goal was Augustinsson’s first ever for the national team and came as he took a cross from Viktor Claesson.
The first half ended in a 0-0 tie, with emotions running high and each team getting its chances. Neither could capitalize and the intensity of an already physical match figures to ramp up in the second half.
Sweden dominated, but Mexico had the best chance, with Carlos Vela getting the closest to scoring in the 16th minute. His kick, however, goes just wide, and he wasn’t the only one who couldn’t believe he missed that chance.
Sweden probably should be leading, but Mexico has had the better scoring chances so far.
Thirty minutes in, the match is chippy with disputes over non-calls — this one concerning the way in which the ball appeared to hit the arm of Javier Hernandez, a.k.a. Chicharito. Play resumes and Sweden’s Marcus Berg has a great shot that Guillermo Ochoa leaps to bat away.
In the 25th minute, Sebastian Larsson is slapped with a yellow, his second of the group stage, for a collision with Hirving Lozano. Larsson would miss the next match.
The match has been animated and fiery from the start. A mere 10 seconds in, Mexico’s Jesus Gallardo draws a yellow card for a midfield, midair collision with Ola Toivonon.
Four minutes in, controversy erupts. Both teams get a break with Mexico avoiding another yellow when Guillermo Ochoa appeared to handle the ball outside the penalty area and Sweden getting a great chance on a free kick close in. Ochoa, though, is up to the task and leaps to knock the kick by Emil Forsberg away.
Was Mexico lucky to avoid a yellow there?
Eleven minutes in, Marcus Berg’s bicycle kick goes just wide of the net. This game is the antithesis of France-Denmark on Tuesday. It has been lit from the get-go.
Meanwhile, in Kazan, Germany and South Korea are playing another match with huge Group F implications. Germany, like Sweden, has three points in the group.
Despite its impressive victory over Germany and a win over South Korea, Mexico is in a bit of a pickle.
Out of seven teams that have won their first two World Cup matches, it is the only one that is not through to the next round of play. If it were to lose to Sweden and if Germany beats South Korea, three teams would be tied for the Group F lead with six points, with the group settled by tiebreakers that start with best goal differential.
And if both Mexico and South Korea win (the games are taking place at the same time), Mexico would win the group and the other teams would be tied with three points each.
As for Sweden, trying to advance to the next round for the first time in 12 years, six points may not be enough. Sweden might find that it needs to win by two goals, but that depends on how Germany fares. A two-goal win would secure a spot in the second round for Sweden.
That’s easier said than done. The Swedes are coming off a heartbreaker of a loss to Germany that caused midfielder Jimmy Durmaz to be targeted by racial attacks on social media. His foul set up the free kick that led to Toni Kroos’ game-winning goal. Born in Sweden to ethnic Assyrian parents who emigrated from Turkey, Durmaz was called a terrorist and online abuse was so severe it was reported to the authorities. He called those attacks “completely unacceptable” as he read a statement Sunday.
“I am proud to play in the Swedish national team,” Durmaz said. “I will never let any racists destroy that pride. We must all stand against all forms of racism.”
- Previous results: Beat Germany, 1-0. Beat South Korea, 2-1.
- What’s at stake: El Tri may still need points to advance to the round of 16. If Mexico wins, it might be able to avoid Brazil in the round of 16. If Sweden beats Mexico and Germany beats South Korea, three teams would be tied atop Group F with six points, setting off a series of tiebreakers that start with largest goal differential.
- Notable: Mexico is trying to advance to the round of 16 for the seventh consecutive World Cup.
- FIFA world ranking: 15. ELO world ranking: 12.
- Previous results: Beat South Korea, 1-0. Lost to Germany, 2-1.
- What’s at stake: Three teams could finish with six points, which would send the group’s teams to a series of tiebreakers. If Mexico and South Korea both win, Mexico would win the group and every other team would be tied with three points. A two-goal victory over Mexico would lock in a spot in the next round for Sweden.
- Notable: Sweden hasn’t made it to the second round since 2006.
- FIFA world ranking: 24. ELO world ranking: 19.
Player to watch
Guillermo Ochoa has been solid in goal and leads the tournament with 14 saves, stopping nine against Germany. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic retired from World Cup, midfielder Emil Forsberg is the man to watch for Sweden.