However, ultimately it was a defender, Kim Younggwon, who scored to pave the way for the South Koreans’ historic triumph, before Son sealed the victory with a late second.
At least Mexican-South Korean relations are at an all-time high, hey?
And Loew, the 58-year-old who guided Germany to the world crown in Brazil four years ago, admitted he now needs time to decide whether his 12-year reign will continue – despite signing a new four-year contact in May.
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. We just did not deserve it. “We are responsible. It’s very bitter and also just pathetic”.
“We’re not going to the last 16, but we did manage to beat the champions, and the World No. 1 team”, Shin said.
“We wanted to win but we didn’t have what it takes”.
A lack of tempo in Germany’s game has been a glaring factor and when the pressure was on, none of his stars could crack the South Korean defence.
Besides Germany this year, France in 2002, Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014 also got eliminated in the group stage as defending champions.
They trudged off goalless at halftime, with frowns on faces and whistles ringing out from the terraces.
Sure, the Germans may have enjoyed 70 per cent possession and had 26 efforts on goal to their opponents’ 11, but – especially in the first half – it was the South Koreans who arguably posed a greater threat. Both sides made a few replacements, with Thomas Mueller coming off the bench in the 63rd minute.
Offered a free header from close in with minutes left on the clock, centre-back Mats Hummels missed the ball completely, a flawless snapshot of an afternoon of serial ineffectiveness going forward.
“It is a really, really bitter evening for us”, Hummels told German broadcaster ZDF.
“Today it was not easy but, yes, no team could get through easily”. Then the goals rained down.
Some Mexico fans went beyond cheering while watching the action unfold television, either by waving South Korean flags or finding South Korea supporters and thanking them in person with chants and in some cases carrying them like conquering heroes.
“Overall, we can’t be satisfied because we’re not in the knockout stage”, Kim said.
Four minutes later, Son Heung-Min doubled the score on a counter attack, putting the ball in the wide open goal.
A win for Germany would have edged Mexico out on goal difference – but the drama came at the other end as Kim put the ball into the net, although it was initially ruled out for offside.
Ki did not play in the Germany match due to injury, and forward Son Heung-min wore the captain’s armband in Ki’s stead.