world cup roundup Sunday’s matches
Mexico 1, Germany 0
Defending World Cup champions have been finding it hard to get out of the group stage lately, and Germany is proving no exception. The 2014 champions, ranked No. 1 in the world, were exposed defensively and surprisingly beaten by Mexico, putting its hopes of advancement in doubt. Well, not everyone is in doubt. “We will make it,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said. “There’s no reason to fall apart because you lose one game.” Hirving Lozano scored the lone goal in the 35th minute, picking up Javier Hernandez’s pass inside the penalty area and beating Mesut Ozil before shooting past Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer from 10 yards. The goal decided the match — a match Germany didn’t expect to lose. “I don’t know if it’s the biggest victory in [Mexico’s] history, but one of the biggest for sure,” Lozano said. “My teammates and I did some great work. We all ran our hearts out. This is the result of all that hard work.” Three of the previous four defending World Cup champions failed to reach the knockout stages, France, Italy and Spain. Two of them lost their opening matches while the Italians had to settle for a draw. The Germans are bidding to become the first team to retain the World Cup title since Brazil in 1962, but have now won only one of their last seven games in all competitions. They hadn’t lost an opening game since the then-West Germany fell 2-1 to Algeria in 1982. Mexico had never beaten Germany in a competitive match but was transformed from the team which lost to the Germans 4-1 in last year’s Confederations Cup, conceding twice in the opening eight minutes. Lozano, a 22-year-old forward nicknamed “Chucky,” got Mexico going with a deflected shot over the bar in the first minute. That set the tone for Mexico to torment Germany on the counterattack, with Lozano taking full advantage of right back Joshua Kimmich’s tendency to go forward.
Brazil 1, Switzerland 1
Brazil joined the list of big teams struggling to win their opening matches at the World Cup in Russia. The five-time champions were held to a draw by Switzerland. Philippe Coutinho gave Brazil the lead in the 20th minute with a volley that bounced in off the right post. Steven Zuber then headed in the equalizer in the 50th. Mexican referee Cesar Ramos dismissed complaints that Zuber had shoved defender Miranda before getting to the corner from Xherdan Shaqiri. “I was pushed out of the way. There is video of what happened and the referee could have seen it. But it didn’t happen,” Miranda said. “We got a draw but this is only the beginning for us. We knew this game wasn’t going to be easy.” Ramos also ignored a penalty claim late in the second half when Gabriel Jesus was wrestled to the ground by Switzerland defender Manuel Akanji. Switzerland’s players dominated the midfield for long spells against a Brazil team that lost its previous World Cup match 7-1 to Germany in the 2014 semifinals. Since taking charge in 2016, however, Brazil coach Tite has only lost once in 22 games.
Serbia 1, Costa Rica 0
Aleksandar Kolarov scored from a left-footed free kick in the 56th minute and Serbia opened its World Cup with a victory over Costa Rica. After David Guzman was handed a yellow card, Kolarov curled the ensuing free kick over the wall. Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who plays for Real Madrid, couldn’t reach it. Serbia, which missed out on the 2014 tournament, had the early advantage in a tough group that includes five-time champion Brazil and Switzerland. After a scoreless first half, Navas fought off a barrage of challenges to open the second with the boisterous Costa Rican fans cheering him on at Samara Arena. The final moments of the match were marked by a squabble on the sidelines as Nemanja Matic got into a tussle with a Costa Rican coach. Players from both teams rushed toward the scrum but it was quickly diffused. The Ticos were the surprise of the last World Cup, sweeping through to the quarterfinals in Brazil before being ousted by the Netherlands on penalties. It was the furthest the small Central American nation had advanced in soccer’s premier tournament. But there was some uncertainty surrounding the Ticos after a pair of friendly losses heading into the World Cup, including a 4-1 rout by Belgium a week ago. Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic, who replaced Slavoljub Muslin last year, put together a veteran defense with Kolarov, who plays for Roma, and former Chelsea player Branislav Ivanovic. Also included were Manchester United midfielder Matic, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who had an apparent falling out with Muslin but was brought to Russia by Krstajic.