Germany Snatches Victory From the Jaws of Elimination

I almost had to write a third entry in a row about a favorite crashing out. There was certainly fear  of sounding like a broken record. Luckily, Tony Kroos's cheeky free kick right as time was expiring saved me from that fate.

He didn't just save me, though. Kroos, also, rescued Die Mannschaft from being the fourth of the last five defending champions to not make it out of the World Cup's group stage. It not only would have been embarrassing, but the performance would have generated critical opprobrium from their fans.  

After losing to Mexico, the game against Sweden was a must win. But just as first game went, so started their second. At almost the same exact minute as the game against Mexico, Jogi Löw's team gave up yet another goal off a counter attack. And, let's not forget, there was a legitimate shout for a Sweden penalty kick in the 12th minute. Marcus Berg was hauled down from behind by Jerome Boateng just inside the 18 yard box. 

After putting in a lackluster performance in the first 45, Germany went into the halftime looking for inspiration. They found it early in the second half. In a smash and grab moment, more reminiscent of their sides of the late 80's and early 90's, Marco Reus managed to wrong foot Swedish keeper Robin Olsen after getting the inside of his knee on a cross from Timo Werner.  

As the game went on, however, the German side returned to their pedestrian performance of the first half.  And in the 80th, Jerome Boateng received his second yellow card for a reckless challenge on Marcus Berg. He'll miss the important final group match up against South Korea. 

But only after going down a player, did the Germans start to perk up. Mario Gomez directed his header right to Olsen, who tipped it over the bar in the 87th. Five minutes later, Julian Brandt's thunderbolt managed to find the post, but not the back of the net. 

Finally, with about 20 seconds left in estimated stoppage time, Kroos stepped into the breach and saved Germany from elimination. It was do or die and the Real Madrid midfielder curled his effort into the back post from a wicked angle, fooling the goal keeper and breaking the hearts of Swedes in the stadium and watching at home. 

To be sure, they're not out of the woods yet. They still have to beat South Korea. And even then, to absolutely guarantee their ticket is punched to the knockout round, they have to win by two goals.

The craziness doesn't end there. Mexico, after storming out to two victories, could still be eliminated. All they need is a point to assure a place in the next round. But if they lose to Sweden, they could go home early. And that would be a shame.