A marvellous football night

Maswood Alam Khan | Published: June 24, 2018 20:59:15 | Updated: June 24, 2018 22:15:42

We failed to blink back tears of joy and surprise. It was the first, the finest and the fiercest football the world watched last night between Germany and Sweden. Heads of about 3.2 billion people, almost half of the world's population, deliriously reeled. How a footballer's foot could be nimble and explosive was on display. How adrenaline pumped blood into Toni Kroos's muscles turning him into a superhuman was vivid.  Oh no, it was not a game. It was a war that made blood run cold. It was a drama impromptu composed by a 10-man Germany!

Germany was most diligently saved by the flick of a foot in the wink of an eye at the last possible second of the game. It was not miraculous. It was Germany-made! At the end of second half, when Germany and Sweden were in a dog fight, it didn't seem the scene would ever change. And then, the theatre unfurled its wide screen.

Germany restored its World Cup hopes with one swing of Toni Kroos's right foot, snatching a 2-1 victory over Sweden from the jaws of a draw.

It was a night that began with Germany facing elimination. The golden goal just before the final whistle gave Germany a strong shot of advancing to the round of 16.

The game would have been a complete bore if Sweden didn't play superbly and ferociously.  It was the unbelievable stunning goal from the Sunderland legend Ola Toivonen of Sweden that made people believe that the country was an emerging lion.

However, it was a surprise, and to some extent vexing, that Germany made twice as many shots as Sweden, and had almost three times the possession, but still they had to battle on the 1-0 deficit at first halftime!

The second halftime was a bonanza. Marco Reus's equaliser was in fact the ignition that agitated the Germans. If Toni Kroos were not born on January 04, 1990 and Marco Reus on May 31, 1989, Germany perhaps would have been out last night from this year's World Cup.

Mexico showed their power with a convincing win, 2-1, over South Korea in another match on Saturday. Now they are in a very good position to advance to the round of 16 after two wins.

Mexico's Carlos Vela scored the first goal of the match against South Korea and Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez the second. Hirving Lozano of the same team was again the superb orchestrator. Hector Herrera dislodged the ball from South Korea in Mexico's half, then Lozano collected it and carried it all the way to South Korea's area. A simple dish-off to Hernandez on the right side, and Hernandez just slid it in for his 50th international goal.

The first game on Saturday night between Belgium and Tunisia witnessed goals galore. Belgium overwhelmed Tunisia, 5-2, in an action-packed game polishing its credentials as a World Cup favourite. Romelu Lukaku of Belgium, who scored twice, is now poised to join the players who are aspiring for the Golden Boot. Eden Hazard also had two goals for Belgium.

Belgium got on the board with the 6th minute goal scored by Eden Hazard and 10 minutes later it was Romelu Lukaku who scored the second.And a flood of goals ensued.

Tunisian performance was of world standard. They attacked throughout the game and was rewarded when Dylan Bronn headed in a long free kick. They perhaps lost a bit of morale when, just before halftime, Hazard laid off a touch-pass to Lukaku, who drove home his second goal. In the second half, Belgium took advantage of a stretched-thin Tunisian defence.

The game was slow. Maybe it was due to a bit of rain, maybe it was the scoreboard singing Belgian songs, or maybe it was Tunisian exhaustion.

Gary Lineker,  a former English professional footballer and currently sports broadcaster, once said: "Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win." Yes, Germany has a chance, but, despite their magic against Sweden, they are not as splendid as they were in 2014. The biggest hopes are rookie Timo Werner and twin heroes Toni Kroos and Marco Reus.


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