Juan Carlos Osorio’s side had confidence in abundace as they held their own against the favourites and current world champions Germany. they took on Germany’s fearsome but slowing midfield and found space at the back ending 33 years without a win against Germany. After wasting a handful of first-half chances while living dangerously in their own half, Hirving Lozano’s 35th-minute strike on the break proved just reward.
When German centre back Mats Hummels lost possession deep in the Mexican half, Javier Hernandez was released through the middle. He outpaced Jerome Boateng and with a less than perfect pass found Lozano, who controlled the ball, cut inside Mesut Ozil, held off a charging Toni Kroos and slotted past Manuel Neuer.
At the other end, Guillermo Ochoa tipped a blistering Kroos free kick on to the bar minutes later, in what was to prove the Germans’ closest effort of a match in Moscow in which they had more than 60 percent possession but could not make it count.
“Our motto was play with the love of winning and not the fear of losing,” said a delighted Osorio.
“Mexico deserved the win,” Hummels conceded, noting how he and Boateng were left exposed at the back and saying the team had failed to learn from a recent friendly defeat to Austria.
“If we go on like this, I’ll be worried,” he added. “But I expect us to improve.”
Germany pressed in the second half but struggled to find the target. Osorio beefed up his defences to hang on, pulling off Lozano with a quarter of an hour left and sending in 39-year-old Rafael Marquez at the back to become the third man ever to play in five World Cups.
Loew threw on Marco Reus in place of Sami Khedira and, with 10 minutes to go, switched left-back Marvin Plattenhardt for a second striker, Mario Gomez, to reinforce Timo Werner, who had failed to make much of a mark in the German spearhead.
Mexico had much of the 80 000 crowd in Luzhniki Stadium on its feet as the Germans left ever greater gaps at the back, and the wastefulness notably of Hernandez on the final pass may reassure future opponents that Mexico, while determined to end a Cinderella reputation, have not replaced Germany as favourites.
Youngster Julian Brandt nearly saved Loew’s night after taking over from Werner in the final minutes when he blasted a shot past Ochoa’s right post, and even goalkeeper Neuer came up for a corner in injury time.
But it was not to be.
Mexico can dream of going better than a consistent record of reaching the last 16 of the last six World Cups and perhaps of improving on the quarterfinal they last reached in 1986.
The Germans now face Sweden and South Korea and should still qualify from Group F. But their reputation is not what it was.
Recent history by European teams, who were world champions before the world cup will now worry the Germans as they hope not to end up like spain in 2014 or france in 2002, as they both were champions before the tournament and lost their opening games before bowing out in the group stages Unfortunately they have started on the same path.
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