Sweden produced a sensational 3-0 win over Mexico as both sides progressed to the last 16 of the World Cup at the expense of Germany.
The Swedes started the day in third place in Group F, but Ludwig Augustinsson’s volley (50), Andreas Granqvist’s penalty (62) and Edson Alvarez’s calamitous own goal (74) saw them leap to top spot with a tremendous display in Yekaterinburg.
That put Mexico in serious danger of elimination, but two late goals for South Korea to defeat Germany 2-0 meant that the six points they picked up in their opening two matches were enough to see them into the knock-out stages
Mexico knew before kick-off that a draw would see them progress as group winners, but aside from Carlos Vela’s 17th-minute shot which flashed narrowly wide, Sweden dominated the first-half chances.
Emil Forsberg forced an early save from Guillermo Ochoa and blasted a close-range shot over the bar (18) before Argentine referee Nestor Pitana was invited by the VAR to consider a penalty appeal in the 28th minute when Javier Hernandez appeared to control a bouncing ball inside the area with his arm.
After watching replays on the pitchside monitor, the official decided the action was not deliberate – to the frustration of the raging Sweden manager Janne Andersson – and from the resulting corner Ochoa made a point-blank save to turn Marcus Berg’s volley over the bar.
However, Sweden found the breakthrough five minutes after half-time when Viktor Claesson’s mis-hit shot looped into the path of left-back Augustinsson and he volleyed in from close range to score his first ever international goal.
The second followed 12 minutes later when Hector Moreno rashly dived in on Berg inside the area and Granqvist lashed a brilliant penalty into the top-left corner to put Mexico in big trouble.
Neither Juan Carlos Osorio nor Janne Andersson made any changes to the starting XIs from the previous group matches. Mexico’s attacking trio of Carlos Vela, Hirving Lozano and Javier Hernandez started for the third match in a row.
Their day got even worse when Isaac Thelin flicked Viktor Claesson’s throw into the path of the unfortunate Alvarez who steered the ball past his own goalkeeper from a yard out, meaning one Germany goal would eliminate Mexico.
Fans around the stadium barely watched the final 10 minutes as they waited for news from Kazan, which duly arrived in the form of two late South Korea goals to see Mexico into a last 16 tie with the winners of Group E – possibly Brazil – on Monday.
But while Mexico’s fans and players had an anxious wait, the full-time whistle prompted raucous celebrations from Sweden’s players who can look forward to a knockout clash in St Petersburg on Tuesday afternoon.
Sweden will now play the second-placed side in Group E – currently Switzerland – in St Petersburg on Tuesday afternoon. Mexico will play winners of that group in Samara on Monday afternoon.