Reigning world champions Germany suffered defeat in their opening game of the World Cup 2018. Mexico top Group F after clinching a narrow, but well-deserved, 1-0 win courtesy of Hirving Lozano's first-half goal.
Germany 0-1 Mexico (Lozano 35')
An unusually sloppy Germany side were brutally exposed by a pacy, committed and decisive Mexican outfit that handed the champions their first group stage opening match loss since 1982.
The fans at the Luzhniki Stadium had to be quick to their seats as Hirving Lozano forced Jerome Boateng into a last-ditch challenge before Timo Werner spurned a half-chance at the other end, all inside the opening three minutes.
The early chances were a sign of what was to come in an open and entertaining first half that had fans captivated by the pace of proceedings. Mexico’s pressing game forced Germany into uncharacteristic mistakes and, with Joshua Kimmich pushing down the right, El Tri regularly found space in behind on the counter.
Chicharito failed to make it count when he was clean through on goal in the 18th minute, but turned provider ten minutes before half-time when he teed up Lozano to break the deadlock at the end of a swift counter attack.
Toni Kroos responded by rattling the woodwork before the break, but it wasn’t until Marco Reus’ introduction on the hour-mark, shortly after another scare at the back, that the game began to swing slightly in Germany’s favor.
An acrobatic attempt from Kimmich landed on the roof of the net before Julian Brandt clipped the outside of the post with a stunning volley. Die Mannschaft ramped up the pressure late on, but came closer to conceding further than they did to grabbing an equalizer as their World Cup title defense started in defeat.
As it happened:
+++ FULL TIME: Germany 0-1 Mexico (Lozano 35') +++
90+3' Corner for Germany. Neuer is up. Poor corner and it's easily cleared.
90+2' Patient build-up from Germany almost pays off as Müller threads an almost perfect throughball into the box but Ochoa is out to smother.
90+1' Three minutes of added time
90' Brandt with a good cross from the left but it misses everyone, the ball comes back to Boateng who shoots from distance, eliciting groans from the German fans. That was a waste.
89' Just wide! Gomez darts to the near post but Mexico clear - only as far as Brandt who fires a volley off the outside of the post! So, so close for the Leverkusen man.
87' Huge chance! Mario Gomez with a free header just six yards out but looks like he jumps too early and his header goes over.
86' Substitution for Germany - Julian Brandt replaces Timo Werner
84' Ochoa saves from a relatively weak Kroos effort.
83' Timo Werner looks tired, stood slightly away from the play, catching his breath with his hands on his knees.
82' Another Mexican break ends with Layun firing just wide. Which way is this going to go?
81' Mexico are three-on-two on the counterattack! But once again, the final pass is lacking and the chance is wasted. Had Mexico's passing been more precise, they could have been out of sight by now. And with Werner, Gomez and Reus all on the pitch, they might be made to pay.
80' Substitution for Germany - Mario Gomez replaces Marvin Plattenhardt
A center-forward for a left-back. Attack attack attack for Joachim Löw.
79' Kimmich crosses from the right, then Plattenhardt from the left, before Özil's shot is blocked. The pressure is growing.
77' Germany are cranking up the pressure but Mexico break with Layun who's on his own. He beats Plattenhardt and gets a shot away but it's over the bar.
76' Close for Germany! Kroos fires just wide from the edge of the box.
74' Substitution for Mexico - Rafael Marquez replaces Andres Guardado
Marquez comes on in his FIFTH World Cup.
71' At the other end, Reus first volleys into Gallardo's face (which looks like it hurt) before volleying over.
70' Confusion in the Germany box as Chicharito is played through but goes down under challenge from Hummels. The referee ultimately adjudges the Mexican to have comitted a foul.
69' Draxler drives into the box from the left wing, displaying the penetration that Löw had praised pre-match with a rapid step-over, but his cross is blocked.
Germany have a slighty more creativity since Reus' introduction, although that's not saying much.
68' ... from the corner, a second ball in is flicked on to Werner at the back post who, probably in an offside position, volleys over.
67' Germany get beyond the Mexican midfield line and Müller's cross from the right comes all the way through to Draxler, whose shot is deflected over for a corner ...
64' More long spells of possession for Germany in the Mexico half, but no way through the massed defense - until Kimmich attempts a spectacular overhead kick from Boateng's cross! It goes just over, and you also have to ask what on earth Kimmich was doing in the middle anyway? But Germany need chances and that was the closest they've come in the second half.
60' Substitution for Germany - Marco Reus replaces Sami Khedira
57' What a let off for Germany! This time, it's Marvin Plattenhardt who is caught miles up field and Mexico have a two-on-one situation on the edge of the German box! But Chicharito's pass to Vela is poor and the chance is wasted. That really should have been 2-0. Germany are all over the place at the back.
55' Finally, a bit of pace in a German attack as the ball is moved swiftly from Werner, to Kroos and on to Draxler, whose shot from the left hand side of the box is blocked.
54' Werner claims he was fouled on the edge of the box but the referee rightly waves his appeals away.
53' Germany with a patient build-up involving Müller and Draxler, ending with a harmless, long-range Kimmich effort.
51' Goalscorer Lozano takes on Kimmich down the Mexican left but runs the ball out of play for a German goal kick.
48' Marvin Plattenhardt with a long-range effort at the start of the second half, straight down Ochoa's throat.
+++ SECOND HALF +++
Germany, unchanged, get the second half underway, now kicking from right to left. A huge improvement is required.
Analysis: The half-time whistle comes as a relief for Germany, who have been sloppy and slow in possession and have had no answer to a series of blistering Mexican counter-attacks. Germany have given the ball away an incredible 36 times in the first half, leading to situations where they have been exposed at the back.
Joshua Kimmich finds himself in a particular quandary. The Bayern man has been one of Germany's more creative players going forward but the gap he's leaving at right-back has been exposed on several occasions - including for the Mexican goal.
In the center, Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira are losing the midfield battle against Andres Guardardo and Hector Herrera. Thomas Müller and Mesut Özil are barely in the game.
+++ HALF-TIME: GERMANY 0-1 MEXICO (Lozano 35') +++
45' After a deep Plattenhardt cross, Mexico pour forward again! While Kimmich lies on the floor in the Mexican box still appealing in vain for a penalty, Mexico are already on the edge of the German box. Joachim Löw will be having words, because this is no way to defend a title.
42' Kimmich chips into the box at one end, but there are no runs from the static German attack. In contrast, Mexico launch another blistering counter-attack, but Germany survive.
38' CROSSBAR! Toni Kroos' free-kick flies back off the woodwork! Germany so close to an equalizer. In fact, replays show Ochoa got a good touch on in - great save.
35' GOAL! Germany 0-1 Mexico (Lozano)
It's been coming! Khedira loses possession in the Mexican half and the green shirts pile forward with Vela leading the counter-attack. He feeds it forward to Chicharito who immediately plays in Lozano on the left, exploiting yet another gap left by the advanced Kimmich. Lozano cuts inside past Özil onto his right and fires low past Neuer to give Mexico a well-deserved lead.
31' A spell of German possession brings a much-needed lull in proceedings as both teams take stock of where they are. In the opning half hour, both have focussed rather on attack than defense, which has at least made for an entertaining game.
28' A Boateng slip allows Vela to sprint clear down the left, with Kimmich again caught out higher up the pitch. Fortunately for Germany, Hummels gets back to block what was a poor cross. Germany do not look comfortable at the back in the face of the Mexican tempo.
26' A deep free-kick from Kroos is nodded back in by Hummels but Draxler can't win it. On the counter-attack, Layun fires over for Mexico.
23' Mats Hummels loses possesion dangerously in his own half but Mexico can't capitalize.
23' Toni Kroos wth the latest long-range effort on goal for Germany.
21' Mexico's offensive approach to the game has created an exciting spectacle so far. They've proven they can cause Germany problems with their pace but they are leaving themselves open at the back. Kimmich has already looked to exploit that but, ironically, it's the gap he is leaving at right-back which Mexico are targeting.
20' And now the latest chance for Germany, but Werner's turn and shot is too close to Ochoa.
18' Mexico's pace through the middle is too much for Germany again and Chicharito finds himself through on goal with Kimmich out of position. But the former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen man doesn't trust himself to shoot on his left foot and the chance goes begging. Germany are pushing their luck, here.
16' Huge chance for Germany. Kimmich swings a perfect cross across the Mexican box but Khedira, lurking behind a Mexican defender, doesn't move his head towards it. After the resulting corner is cleared, Draxler's long-range effort is saved.
14' Layun's free-kick into the Germany six-yard-box is dangerous and Moreno gets his head on it, but Neuer is well positioned to save from close range.
12' Mesut Özil finds Joshua Kimmich in behind with a clever chip - precisely the sort of ball he is in the team to make - but Mexico get men back to defend well.
10' A stinging long range effort from Hector Herrera is well held by a flying Manuel Neuer. Mexico are certainly not hiding here; they're taking the game to the world champions.
9' Layun curls his free-kick over the bar.
8' Mexico break with Vela and win a free-kick after Hummels brings the pacey number 11 down.
7' Thomas Müller wins a corner for Germany after being fed in by Julian Draxler. The corner is cleared but as Germany come again, the ball falls to Mats Hummels on the edge of the box, whose left-footed half-volley is easily saved by Ochoa.
5' An intense start to the game in Moscow with chances at both ends. And the Mexican fans are making a racket.
3' First sight of goal for Germany as Timo Werner flashes a shot across goal.
2' From the resulting corner, Manuel Neuer is called upon to smother the ball in the six-yard-box after it bounced off Marvin Plattenhardt.
1' A big early chance for Mexico as Vela finds space behind the German midfield and plays in Lozano but Jerome Boateng, whose match-fitness has been questioned, comes in with a last-ditch challenge.
+++ KICK-OFF +++
Mexico get us underway kicking from to right to left in their traditional dark green shirts. Germany in white - and with four stars above the crest.
16:50 - Countdown to kick-off
The German supporters are in the minority inside the Luzhniki Stadium, waving their flags and inflatable clappers distributed by the "Fan Club Nationalmannschaft" - it's certainly a different atmosphere to a Bundesliga game!
The Mexicans on the other hand, like many of their South American neighbors, have traveled to Russia in huge numbers and are making their presence known.
16:40 - Draxler and the Confed Cup factor
When Leroy Sané pulled out of last summer's Confederations Cup, it didn't go down too well with Joachim Löw - although the German coach has insisted that that wasn't a reason for his World Cup omission.
Nevertheless, Julian Brandt and Julian Draxler have certainly done their international careers no harm with their performances in Russia last summer.
Draxler, who captained that Germany team, has earned himself a place in the starting XI with Löw saying he has been impressed with the PSG man's "professionalism, penetration and personality."
16:35 - Özil gets the nod
The big personnel debate in the build-up was whether Marco Reus or Mesut Özil would get the nod behind Timo Werner - and Joachim Löw has opted for the Arsenal man who has featured in all of Germany's last 25 games at major tournaments.
Özil has of course been the subject of controversy in recent weeks after his ill-advised photoshoot with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with former players such as Lothar Matthäus and Stefan Effenberg suggesting both Özil and Ilkay Gündogan should have been omitted from the squad.
But, despite not having apologized or even spoken at all since the incident, Özil remains as popular as ever within the Germany squad. "Mesut has been joking around and has been as happy as ever," said Julian Draxler. "Anyway, he's probably the most creative player we have."
16:25 - The Bavarian Block
Seven Bayern Munich players are part of Germany's squad and five of them start this afternoon: Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Müller. In Toni Kroos, a former Bayern Munich Champions League winner is in midfield and, in Timo Werner, perhaps a future Bayern striker? Time will tell ...
16:10 - Chicharito partners Vela up front
Eintracht Frankfurt center back Carlos Salcedo features in Mexico's starting line-up, while former Bayer 04 Leverkusen Javier Hernandez partners Carlos Vela up front.
16:05 - Atmosphere is building in Moscow!
We're less than 60 minutes away from Die Mannschaft getting their World Cup 2018 campaign underway.
16:00 - Hector ruled out
News broke earlier today that Jonas Hector would miss out against Mexico due to suffering the flu, meaning Hertha Berlin's Marvin Plattenhardt slots into the starting line-up at left-back.
We've seen plenty of goals from set-piece situations this summer, perhaps Plattenhardt can get in on the act.
15:55 - Germany starting line-up
15:50 - Germany kick off title defense
It's the one we've all been waiting for - World Cup fever is in full effect ahead of the Group F opener!
Reigning world champions Germany are set to get the ball rolling on their title defense in Russia when they take on Mexico at the 81,000 seater Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Can Joachim Löw's men, much changed from the side who lifted the trophy four years ago, get themselves off on the right foot? Will Marco Reus finally make his World Cup debut?