Low credits last-gasp win to Germany's patience

Sweden's goalkeeper Robin Olsen (above) fails to stop Toni Kroos' free kick deep into stoppage time in Saturday's match, which Germany won 2-1. Germany's defensive frailties being exposed, with Ola Toivonen (far left) running in between two opponents
Sweden's goalkeeper Robin Olsen (above) fails to stop Toni Kroos' free kick deep into stoppage time in Saturday's match, which Germany won 2-1.PHOTO: REUTERS
Sweden's goalkeeper Robin Olsen (above) fails to stop Toni Kroos' free kick deep into stoppage time in Saturday's match, which Germany won 2-1. Germany's defensive frailties being exposed, with Ola Toivonen (far left) running in between two opponents
Germany's defensive frailties being exposed, with Ola Toivonen (above) running in between two opponents to loop the ball over goalkeeper Manuel Neuer for Sweden's opener.PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Sweden's goalkeeper Robin Olsen (above) fails to stop Toni Kroos' free kick deep into stoppage time in Saturday's match, which Germany won 2-1. Germany's defensive frailties being exposed, with Ola Toivonen (far left) running in between two opponents
It got worse, with Jerome Boateng fouling Marcus Berg. It earned the defender his second yellow card of the game, ruling him out of the final group match against South Korea.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SOCHI • Germany's heart-stopping 2-1 win over Sweden was not only a "roller-coaster ride" for fans and players alike but also a triumph for calm thinking and patience, coach Joachim Low said on Saturday.

The world champions went a goal down after 32 minutes and although Marco Reus equalised three minutes into the second half, their hopes of retaining the World Cup were hanging by a thread until Toni Kroos popped up in the fifth minute of stoppage time to score a sensational free-kick winner.

Low said he knew Germany would find it hard to break down the Swedish defence but told his players at half-time to keep playing their usual brand of precision football.

"I told them to keep their calm in the next 45 minutes and to not start panicking and try to work long, high balls but to continue with short passes and go vertical to the wings and try to be incisive," Low said.

"Something that I did appreciate was that we didn't lose our nerve, we didn't panic after going down. We kept a level head, we said we needed to keep passing and tire the Swedes out and open up spaces. And, in the second half, the pressure built up more and more.

"I appreciated the spirit of the team - we never lost hope of winning the match. The goal in stoppage time, there was bit of luck involved but it was also about believing in ourselves and powering on."

BIT OF LUCK NEEDED

We never lost hope of winning the match. The goal in stoppage time, there was bit of luck involved but it was also about believing in ourselves and powering on.

JOACHIM LOW , Germany's coach on his team winning by Toni Kroos' goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Low, who led the Germans to glory in Brazil four years ago, paid particular tribute to Kroos, the midfielder whose mistake led to Sweden's goal from Ola Toivonen.

Kroos kept plugging away and his goal at the German end of Sochi's Fisht Stadium provoked delirious scenes from their fans and the bench.

"I was very pleased for him," Low added. "He was obviously involved in the mistake with the Swedes scoring the first goal. It was an unfortunate incident but what he did very well was this free kick in the dying minutes. Of course this was a thriller, full of emotions, a rollercoaster ride."

There is still no guarantee that Germany will avoid elimination. However, this result will provide an almighty boost to them and is a hammer blow to Sweden, who will face Mexico in their last match with all still to play for.

Low said that changes would be needed for their final Group F game against South Korea.

"My players were tired at the end of the game and Marco (Reus) had cramps as early as 10 minutes before the end," he said.

"Jerome Boateng is suspended (red card) and Sebastian Rudy broke his nose. We will need a couple of days to recover. Rudy could potentially play on Wednesday but we will need to wait and see."

While there was relief for Low, a fuming Sweden coach Janne Andersson accused Germany of "rubbing it in our faces" as they celebrated the dramatic late goal from Kroos.

"Some of Germany's leaders celebrated by running in our direction and rubbing it into our faces. That got me angry," said Andersson.

"We fought it out for 90 minutes and when the final whistle blows, you shake hands and you leave, so I was very angry with that.

"You should leave your opponents to feel sad. You do not act in the way they did."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2018, with the headline 'Low credits last-gasp win to Germany's patience'. Print Edition | Subscribe