Toni Kroos’ injury-time winner against Sweden revived defending champions Germany’s hopes of becoming the first side to retain the World Cup since Brazil in 1962.
Ola Toivonen’s deft first-half lob had left Joachim Low’s side facing elimination but Marco Reus, starting in place of Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, prodded in an equaliser as Germany assumed control after the interval.
The champions then had Jerome Boateng sent off late on for a second yellow card but continued to chase the game knowing a draw left their fate in others’ hands.
And they were rewarded in the final minute of five added on when Kroos tapped a free-kick short to Marco Reus before sweeping the return pass into the top right corner from left of the penalty area.
The magnitude of the moment saw the euphoric German players run to rejoice in front of their own fans while the Sweden players slumped to the floor, some close to tears.
There were also angry exchanges in the technical area with Sweden’s manager Janne Anderson upset by the exuberance of the celebrations in front of him.
The result means all four teams in Group F can still qualify for the next phase, with the outcome to be decided at venues 600 miles apart on Wednesday 27 June (15:00 BST) when Mexico face Sweden in Ekaterinburg and Germany play South Korea in Kazan.
At half-time it looked as though it was to be a black night for Germany in Sochi, the southernmost venue at the tournament, over 1,000 miles from Moscow, on the coast of the Black Sea.
It seemed perfectly possible that Germany could lose back-to-back games at a finals for the first time since 1958 and become the fourth champions in the past five tournaments to exit at the first-round stage.
But with Low urging his side on from the technical area there was a noticeable increase in tempo following the introduction of Mario Gomez at the interval.
And when Gomez was unable to reach Timo Werner’s cross, Reus followed up to level the score, restore some belief to the rattled Germans and visibly relieve the tension on manager and supporters inside the Fisht Olympic Stadium.
More to follow.
- 17BoatengBooked at 82mins
- 3HectorSubstituted forBrandtat 87′minutes
- 19RudySubstituted forGündoganat 31′minutes
- 7DraxlerSubstituted forGomezat 45′minutes
- 22ter Stegen
- 17ClaessonSubstituted forDurmazat 74′minutes
- 7LarssonBooked at 90mins
- 8EkdalBooked at 52mins
- 20ToivonenSubstituted forGuidettiat 78′minutes
- 9BergSubstituted forThelinat 90′minutes
- Szymon Marciniak
- Shots on Target
Match ends, Germany 2, Sweden 1.
Second Half ends, Germany 2, Sweden 1.
Sebastian Larsson (Sweden) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Ilkay Gündogan (Germany) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Sebastian Larsson (Sweden).
Goal! Germany 2, Sweden 1. Toni Kroos (Germany) from a free kick with a right footed shot to the top right corner.
Timo Werner (Germany) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Jimmy Durmaz (Sweden).
Attempt saved. John Guidetti (Sweden) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jimmy Durmaz with a headed pass.
Marco Reus (Germany) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by John Guidetti (Sweden).
Offside, Germany. Julian Brandt tries a through ball, but Timo Werner is caught offside.
Julian Brandt (Germany) hits the left post with a left footed shot from outside the box. Assisted by Ilkay Gündogan following a corner.
Corner, Germany. Conceded by Mikael Lustig.
Antonio Rüdiger (Germany) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Isaac Thelin (Sweden).
Substitution, Sweden. Isaac Thelin replaces Marcus Berg.
Julian Brandt (Germany) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Jimmy Durmaz (Sweden).
Corner, Germany. Conceded by Robin Olsen.
Attempt saved. Mario Gomez (Germany) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Toni Kroos with a cross.
Substitution, Germany. Julian Brandt replaces Jonas Hector.
Offside, Sweden. Ludwig Augustinsson tries a through ball, but Marcus Berg is caught offside.
Joshua Kimmich (Germany) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Emil Forsberg (Sweden).
Corner, Sweden. Conceded by Manuel Neuer.
Attempt missed. Andreas Granqvist (Sweden) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Ludwig Augustinsson following a set piece situation.
Second yellow card to Jérôme Boateng (Germany) for a bad foul.
Foul by Jérôme Boateng (Germany).
Marcus Berg (Sweden) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt missed. Timo Werner (Germany) right footed shot from the centre of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Thomas Müller with a cross.
Offside, Sweden. John Guidetti tries a through ball, but Marcus Berg is caught offside.
Foul by Thomas Müller (Germany).
Andreas Granqvist (Sweden) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Sweden. John Guidetti replaces Ola Toivonen.
Joshua Kimmich (Germany) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Marcus Berg (Sweden).
Attempt saved. Emil Forsberg (Sweden) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Corner, Sweden. Conceded by Antonio Rüdiger.
Substitution, Sweden. Jimmy Durmaz replaces Viktor Claesson.