A monumental, drama-packed upset.
That’s the only way to describe South Korea scoring a 2-0 victory over Germany to eliminate the defending World Cup champion in shocking fashion Wednesday, marking the first time since 1938 that Germany has failed to qualify for the next round of the World Cup.
After battling to a scoreless match through 91 minutes, South Korean defender Kim Young-Gwon scored a 92nd-minute goal, which was officially called with the help of VAR (video assisted referee), to give his team the 1-0 lead.
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Forward Son Heung-Min caught Germany’s star goalkeeper Manuel Neuer slipping and attacking, completely out of position, as he scored on an empty net goal four minutes later to the shame of the defending champion. That cemented the shocking 2-0 win.
If Heung-Min’s name sounds familiar it’s because entering the match, he gave South Korea a “one-percent chance” to pull off the upset, as the team was playing without its captain, Ki Sung-Yueng, who was ruled out of action due to a calf injury.
"There is a one percent chance, there is hope,” Heung-min said during a press conference Tuesday, as reported by Reuters. “It's a fact, we cannot deny, Germany are much stronger than us but we have to have a mindset that we can do it. I believe we can do it."
Added South Korean coach Shin Tae-Yongon Tuesday: “To be honest, Germany are a lot stronger than us and it won't be easy. But the ball is round, anything can happen, and I believe there will be chances for us. Mexico beat Germany in their match so there is hope for us. Although it's likely that Germany will have more possession, we will do our best.”
Well, South Korea’s belief in itself and doing its best panned out into jubilant fruition Wednesday with the improbable upset win.
With the loss, Germany also became the fourth defending champion in the last five World Cup tournaments to be eliminated in group play, according to The Associated Press.
Even down 0-1, Germany held hope until it was forced to accept its shocking loss at the end.
“It’s very, very hard to put it into words,” Germany defender Mats Hummels said, as reported by the AP afterwards. “We believed until the end [Wednesday], even when it was 0-1, I think we kept trying to turn it all around.”
Added Germany’s coach Joachim Loew: “We deserved to be eliminated. For us, this is a huge disappointment. But we have young players who are talented and have the potential to go forward. It happened to other nations before. We need to draw the right conclusions.”
Neuer won’t likely be able to live his egregiously costly error down anytime soon, as Germany’s goalkeeper was immediately ridiculed on Twitter for inexplicably leaving the goal post Wednesday.
One person tweeted: “Here’s the moment Manuel Neuer lost his mind.”
Another added: “Tha’s been coming for Neuer. Mate, you are a goalkeeper. Keep goal.”
So much for Germany repeating as World Cup champions after winning the tournament in dominant fashion back in 2014. Although the joy of defeating and eliminating Germany will likely linger and perhaps even take on a legend of its own, South Korea joined Germany in not advancing to the knockout stage out of Group F.
That distinction of advancing to the next round of 16 went to Mexico and Sweden on Wednesday after Sweden rolled to a 3-0 shutout. Mexico can actually credit South Korea’s upset of Germany for helping it to advance as well.