Defending champions Germany have been eliminated from the World Cup at the group stages following defeat by South Korea, in one of the biggest shocks in the competition’s history.
The four-time winners crashed out in ignominious fashion – conceding twice in injury time as they pressed for the goal which would have sent them through.
In an astonishing and enthralling end to the match, Kim Young-gwon’s 92nd-minute goal – which was initially ruled out for offside before being awarded after a video assistant referee decision – left Germany on the brink of elimination.
Worse was to come for the world’s number one ranked side, however, when deep into stoppage time and appearing increasingly desperate, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer lost possession in the opponents’ half.
Ju Se-jong launched it forward where Son Heung-min tapped into an empty net to score the second.
That prompted jubilant celebrations from the South Koreans, while some Germany fans inside the shocked stadium were left in tears four years after watching their national team lift the trophy in Rio; a competition in which they beat the hosts Brazil 7-1 in the semi-finals.
It is the first time since 1938 that West Germany or the unified Germany team has not advanced beyond the first stage of the tournament – Joachim Low’s side finishing bottom of Group F in this edition.
Wednesday’s defeat followed their opening loss against Mexico, while it took a dramatic late winner from Toni Kroos to earn them their only points of the group stage against eventual group winners Sweden.
Where did it go wrong for Germany?
Manager Low, who took Germany to World Cup glory in Brazil four years ago, will face strong questions over his selections both for this match and this squad.
He left out Manchester City forward Leroy Sane out of his squad, despite the 22-year-old playing a major role in helping City win the Premier League title, while Mario Gotze, who scored the winner in the 2014 final against Argentina, also missed out.
Against South Korea, Low made five changes, including recalling Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil and dropping Thomas Muller, although the Gunners’ midfielder did not justify his selection with a poor performance that repeatedly saw him give the ball away.
Low has been in charge of Germany since 2006, taking them to the final of the 2008 European Championships when they lost to Spain and then to become world champions in 2014 as they thrashed hosts Brazil 7-1 in the semi-final before beating Argentina 1-0 in the final.
However, questions will remain over Low’s future as well as the international careers of some of their key players.
Neuer is 32, Sami Khedira, 31 with both Ozil and Marco Reus 29 and this may have been the final matches at a World Cup finals in their illustrious careers.
Wasteful Germany’s missed chances cost them
With Sweden winning 3-0 against Mexico in the other Group F game, and it being goalless in Kazan, Germany knew they had to score in a frantic finish.
A win for Germany would have edged Mexico out on goal difference – but the drama came at the other end as Kim put the ball into the net, although it was initially ruled out for offside.
However, the VAR review showed the ball had deflected into Kim’s path off of a German player – Toni Kroos – and the goal was given.
With Germany desperately looking for a goal to get back in the match, Neuer joined the attack.
But he was caught out as a long ball left Tottenham forward Son with the simple task of walking the ball into the net to spark jubilant celebrations among the Asian side, even though their elimination had already been confirmed.