Hirving Lozano scores first-half winner in famous victory in Moscow
Germany’s defence of the World Cup started with defeat as Mexico secured a pulsating 1-0 victory in Moscow on Sunday.
Hirving Lozano finished off a flowing counter-attack with a low close-range strike in the first half to put his team in command of Group F and settle a thriller at the Luzhniki Stadium.
Germany have only ever lost the opening match of a World Cup once before – to Algeria in 1982 – and must now bounce back against Sweden and South Korea if they are to reach the knock-out stages.
Meanwhile, there were wild celebrations from the Mexican players as they enjoyed their first ever competitive victory over Germany.
Mexico’s success was built upon a super first-half display. A last-ditch tackle from Jerome Boateng was required to deny Lozano a second-minute opener and their three vibrant forwards were a constant threat on the break.
Germany: Neuer (6), Plattenhardt (6), Hummels (6), Boateng (6), Kimmich (7), Khedira (5), Draxler (6), Kroos (6), Ozil (5), Muller (6), Werner (5)
Subs: Reus (6), Gomez (6), Brandt (6)
Mexico: Ochoa (7), Ayala (6), Salcedo (8), Moreno (7), Gallardo (7), Layun (8), Herrera (7), Guardado (7), Vela (8), Hernandez (8), Lozano (8)
Subs: Alvarez (6), Jimenez (6), Marquez (6)
Man of the match: Hirving Lozano
Their 35th-minute goal was well deserved. Javier Hernandez and Andres Guardado exchanged passes before finding Lozano in space on the left of the area and the PSV forward cut inside Mesut Ozil in the right-back position, took a touch and drilled low past Manuel Neuer.
Toni Kroos might have levelled four minutes later, but his free-kick was pushed onto the bar by goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa and Mexico could have extended their lead 12 minutes after half-time, but Hernandez failed to pick out Vela in a two-on-two counter-attack.
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was declared fit to start in goal and captain Germany. Jerome Boateng (groin) Mesut Ozil (knee) were also both fit to start after injury, but Jonas Hector did not travel due to illness.No injury concerns were reported by Mexico boss Juan Carlos Osorio and his first-choice XI featured West Ham’s Javier Hernandez and former Arsenal man Carlos Vela.
Both Vela and Lozano were substituted and 39-year-old Rafael Marquez came on to appear in his fifth World Cup as Mexico adopted a more defensive approach in the final 30 minutes of the game, and Germany piled on the pressure late on.
Joshua Kimmich’s overhead kick, Timo Werner’s far-post volley and Kroos’ long-range strike tested the nerves of the Mexican supporters before substitute Mario Gomez headed wide a simple chance with two minutes to play.
Julian Brandt clipped the outside of the post in the final minute of a wonderfully tense encounter, but Mexico held on for a famous win which leaves the world champions, who would likely face Brazil in the last 16 if they finish second in the group, battling to qualify and keep alive their hopes of winning back-to-back World Cups.
- Germany have lost their opening match at a World Cup for only the second time, also doing so in 1982 against Algeria; they went on to reach the final that year.
- Mexico have won their opening match at a World Cup for the fifth time in their last six tournaments (D1).
- This is the third consecutive World Cup in which the reigning champion has failed to win their opening match.
- Mexico beat Germany for only the second time – their last win against them came in a friendly in June 1985.
- Germany had 26 shots without scoring in this match.
- Mexico have lost just two of their last 18 World Cup group games (W9 D7).
- This was Germany’s first defeat in a competitive match since losing 2-0 to France in the Euro 2016 semi-final.
The PSV striker was heralded as a potential World Cup breakout star before the tournament and his dynamic and positive display on the left of Mexico’s front three will have earned him more admiring glances from Europe’s biggest clubs. While Javier Hernandez put in the hard yards and Carlos Vela was a willing runner throughout, Lozano provided the classy touches – and his fine finish in the first half proved to be the crucial moment of the match. The only shame was that he was withdrawn with 30 minutes to play as Mexico adopted a more defensive approach.
Germany head to Sochi for their second game of Group F and a meeting with Sweden next Saturday (7pm, UK time). Mexico are also in action on Saturday when they play South Korea in Rostov-on-Don at 4pm UK time.