Mexico recorded the first shock win of the 2018 World Cup as Hirving Lozano’s strike earned a deserved victory over lacklustre champions Germany.
Dangerous on the break, Mexico took the lead when PSV Eindhoven’s Lozano cut inside Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil before firing low past Manuel Neuer.
Germany went close through Toni Kroos, whose free-kick was pushed on to the bar by Guillermo Ochoa.
Joshua Kimmich and Timo Werner also had good chances for Joachim Low’s side.
The result means Germany are the third champions in succession – following Italy (2010) and Spain (2014) – to start their defence with a defeat.
History was also made when Mexico’s 39-year-old former Barcelona defender Rafael Marquez came on in the second half to become the third player to have played in five successive World Cups. The other two players are Germany’s Lothar Matthaus and Marquez’s compatriot Antonio Carbajal.
– Unconvincing Germany pay the price –
Low’s side had come into the tournament on the back of some unconvincing displays and results in their recent friendlies, but there had been no sign of panic in their camp.
Things were very different at a noisy Luzhniki Stadium, with Germany showing little of the composure or class we associate with them at major finals.
Even before they went behind, they were often over-run in midfield, with Kroos and Sami Khedira unable to offer their defence any protection from Mexico’s rapid counter-attacks.
Germany’s right flank seemed susceptible on the break, with Joshua Kimmich’s forays forward leaving space for Lozano and Hernandez to gallop into unchallenged.
If ‘El Tri’ had made more of their chances, or found a better final ball, then they could have been two or three goals ahead by half-time.
At the other end, Germany were also unconvincing in the early stages, with their famed midfield machine struggling to find a way through Mexico’s determined defence.
Although they improved in the second half, and dominated possession, Germany’s finishing touch eluded them and Mexico continued to cause problems on the counter.
Germany’s sheer desperation to equalise was evident by the number of men they threw forward late on, including, at one stage, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
It left them even more exposed in midfield and at the back in the closing stages, and Mexico might have punished them further. In the end, though, one goal was enough.