Mexico eye top spot against desperate Sweden

Lynette Rowe
June 30, 2018

Second-half goals from defenders Ludwig Augustinsson and Andreas Granqvist, from the penalty spot, plus a comical own goal were reward for a physical display from Sweden, who only made it to Russian Federation by beating Italy in the play-offs.

Then in the 51st minute, the match Hector Moreno was adjudged to have brought down Berg in the box as the referee pointed to the spot.

Mexico's misery was compounded when Edson Alvarez put the ball in his own net in the 74th minute.

But his team were completely unrecognisable from the 2-1 victory over South Korea that followed that impressive opening 1-0 win against Germany.

Guillermo Ochoa doesn't need a slide rule or a calculator to figure out the complicated scenarios facing Mexico as it tries to win its group and advance to the second stage of the World Cup.

Sweden, who reached the finals by knocking out Italy in the playoffs, will play the runner-up in Group E, which could be Brazil, Sweden or Switzerland.

At that stage, Germany were still drawing 0-0 with South Korea, and a late goal for Joachim Low's side would have moved them into second place on goal difference.

After Jesus Gallardo was booked for a robust aerial challenge just 13 seconds into the match, Marcus Berg headed the free-kick back across goal, but Andreas Granqvist wasn't able to make contact inside the six-yard box. "When we arrived here in Russian Federation, the only person who had a big question mark over his head was me, not the national squad." the 56-year-old said of leading his first Mexican World Cup squad.

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Even in Yekaterinburg, almost 500 miles away, the Mexican fans expected Germany to score.

Jimmy Durmaz, the winger who was racially abused online after giving away the free-kick that led to Germany's victor, is again on the bench for Sweden.

The tiebreakers can get confusing, but let's imagine Germany wins 1-0 over Korea and Sweden tops Mexico, 1-0.

Mexico had 20 shots but only three on frame as they back into the knockout stage.

The four-time champions allowed a pair of injury-time goals while knowing a 1-0 victory would have been enough to advance because of the result in the other group match.

Mexico's celebrations were cut short following Germany's last gasp win over their opponents today which meant the Last-16 is still not secure for the Central American side.

Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic's gamble to play the two key defenders while they were already on yellow cards backfired in a game where the team only needed a draw to progress.

The World Cup continued with activity yesterday and a few surprises came from Group F.

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