Holders Germany crashed out of the World Cup at the group stage on Wednesday in one of the biggest shocks in the tournament’s history — failing to make it past the opening round for the first time since 1938.
The four-time winners came to Russia as one of the favourites but became the fourth side this century to lose in the group stage after winning the previous tournament following a 2-0 defeat against unfancied South Korea.
Sweden topped the group after a 3-0 win against Mexico, who join them in the next round despite the heavy defeat.
Germany came into the match against South Korea knowing a win by two clear goals would guarantee them a place in the last 16 but repeatedly failed to create clearcut chances in Kazan.
The Germans’ fate was sealed by two goals from Son Heung-min and Kim Young-gwon in added time.
About 500 miles (800 kilometres) to the east, in Yekaterinburg, Sweden thumped former group leaders Mexico 3-0, leaving Mexican fans anxiously focusing on events in Kazan.
Defender Mats Hummels admitted Germany’s group stage exit was a “bitter” shock.
“It is a really, really bitter evening for us,” Hummels told German broadcaster ZDF. “The situation is very difficult to put into words.
“We did not put the ball in the net, even though we had plenty of opportunities, including myself in the 86th minute — I have to score from chances like that.”
“We had plenty of opportunities, we broke our necks trying out there today,” he added.
Germany qualified for Russia with a perfect record of 10 wins, but Hummels said the last time the team had played well was when they wrapped up qualification late last year.
“We put ourselves in this situation after the Mexican game,” he admitted after the Germans lost their opener 1-0 to Mexico. The last game we delivered a good performance was in the autumn of 2017.”
Sweden coach Janne Andersson spoke of his pride after his side topped the group with second-half goals from Ludwig Augustinsson, Andreas Granqvist and an own goal from Edson Alvarez.
“We’ve done a fantastic job today with this match,” he said in Yekaterinburg, ahead of a last-16 clash against either Brazil, Switzerland or Serbia.
“I’m so incredibly proud, almost moved as the thought of how we performed on the pitch, so disciplined, I think we’ve grown since our last match.”