SCORE with theSun June 18, 2018

El Tri shock Germany

Iceland’sherokeeperdid homeworktopsychMessi Iceland goal-

World Cup holders ‘under pressure’ after Mexico defeat M exico stunned title holders Germany 1-0 yesterday in the first real shock at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, largely thanks to a spirited first-half display. Hirving Lozano fired thewinner in the 35th minuteandGermanywereunabletocomeback after the break, lacking the flowing game that gave themthe2014 title inaperformancewhich exposedweaknesses in all areas. Mexico could have scoredmorewhileReal Madrid’s Toni Kroos was denied by the crossbar and with a curling shot as the game confirmed below-par showings in the build- up. “It’s the best goal I have scored inmy entire life,”man-of-the-matchLozano said. “I don’t knowif its biggest [Mexican]win in history but it is right up there. It’s great to start on the right foot against the reigning world champions.” JoachimLow’s champions lost for only the second time in aWorld Cup opener, the other being 2-1 toAlgeria in 1982. “Wewere losingballs, sometimes tooeasily, anddidn’tmakeuseof the full space,”Lowsaid. “Wehave toaccept it and learnour lessons and do things better in the next game.” Germany face Sweden on June 23 and four dayslatermeetSouthKoreaastheytrytoavoid becoming the fourth title holder in the last five WorldCups tonot survive the group stage, the others being France in 2002, Italy in 2010 and Spainin2014.ButLowinsisted:“Itwon’thappen to us.Wewillmake it.” Kroos said: “We are now under pressure without a doubt. We definitely need to get six points from the next two games after you lose the first game.” El Tri meanwhile delighted in their first victory over Germany in the sixth attempt at a major championshipas theywere awarded for acourageousperformanceinfrontof78,011fans attheLuzhnikiwheretheirlargefancontingent was in ecstasy. “This is a milestone for Mexican football,” coach Juan Carlos Osorio said. “The team played for the love of winning and not the fear oflosing.Weplayedwithbraverywhenneeded anddefendedwith heartwhenneeded.” Lowhad tomakeonechange to theplanned line-up as Cologne leftback Jonas Hector was sidelined with a cold, and replaced by Hertha Berlin’sMarvinPlattenhardt. Osorio had insisted they would show no

fear, and El Tri started in exactly that fashion, withLozanoonlydenieda first-minute goal by a desperate lunge from Jerome Boateng. And althoughTimoWerner aimedwide left on the other end, Mexico deniedGermany’s midfield withKroos,SamiKhediraandplaymakerMesut Oezil from dominating, and tormented the defence from the past-paced Lozano, Carlos Vela and JavierHernandez. Germany’s nervousness showed when the experienced Boateng was caught out for a wrong throw-in and Khedira played a sloppy pass inhis ownpenalty area. The well-deserved lead came in the 35th. Germany lost the ball yet again in midfield fromMats Hummels and after a few quick passes the ball came from Hernandez to PSVEindhoven’s Lozanowho rounded a clumsyOezilandfiredintothebottomof the near left corner. The goal further rattled the Germanswhononethelessalmostgot an equaliser in the 38th but goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa managed to keep Kroos’ freekick out with some help from the crossbar. Therewerenochanges at the break but the Germans finally tried to attackwitha littlemorepurpose whileatthesametimenotexposing the back line as earlier on. However, that didn’t work in the 57th though a sloppy pass from Hernandez to the brilliant Carlos Vela denied theMexicans a second. Vela then came off, and Lozano followedalittlelaterasMexicostarted to defend deeper to protect the precious advantage while the GermansbroughttheskillfulMarco Reus formore attacking power. ButJoshuaKimmich’soverhead kick landed on the roof of the net, Werner smashedover thebarwhile Kroos’ curling shot and a last-gasp effortfromsubJulianBrandtalsowent wide. Mexico held out as even Neuer came forward in the end, and 39-year- old veteran Rafael Marquez came on with 10minutes left to play at a record- equalling fifthWorldCup. “We have to anaylse it, this wasn’t planned.Weknewweneedmorestability. Itwas unusual nerves,” Lowsaid “We have to do our home work and prepare everything to do things better.” – dpa

Mexico’s Hirving Lozano celebrates after scoring against Germany during their Russia 2018 World Cup Group F yesterday. – afppix

keeper Hannes Halldorsson (pix) revealed Saturday how he worked on psyching out Ar- gentine superstar Lionel Messi to make a penalty save that sealed a 1-1 draw with the footballing super- power. Halldorssonwas the hero when he

palmed away Messi’s spotkick in the 63rd minute, correctly gambling that the Barce- lona talisman would shoot to his right. The man-of-the-match described the mo- ment, which kept the score level at 1-1, as “a dream come true” but also said it was the result of painstaking research into the five-time world player of the year. “I did some homework because I knew this was a situation that could come up. It was a long shot but it happened,” he said after the tie at Moscow’s Spartak Stadium. “I looked at a lot of penalties from Messi and I also looked at how I’ve been behaving during the last couple of penalties. “I tried to get in their minds, so they’d be thinking aboutme. I had a good feeling he’d go this way today.” He said the draw felt like a win for Iceland, who are making their first World Cup appearance but famously gentina resultwas similar to Iceland’s draw with Cris- tiano Ronaldo’s Portugal at those championships because it provided a springboard to make it to the knockout phase. “We were playing against one of the best teams in the world who had the best player in the world,” he said. “It’s especially important for us because it helped us get a point, which is important for us to reach our goal to get out of the group.” – AFP Fromhere on, he is supposed to pick up. Over the course of his career, that goal percentage suddenly jumps. By this point, he has usually isolated the space and prepared at it. Instead, there is a first sign of real frustration. Biglia and Salvio are both told how to their jobs properly, both shown spacewhich is supposedly obvious. The truth, however, is that Messi is yet to find it himself. Minute 11, 20, 23 The reconnaissancemission extendedwell past its usual duration. A lead, establishedby Sergio Aguero, was quickly lost. It was not enough to search anymore, something soon had to be found. Minute 45 Still nothing. The familiar sense he would have to do it all himself. Minute 64 A penalty saved. Havingmade three efforts at Iceland’s goal before the spot-kick, an increas- ingly desperateMessi made seven after it. The last was the final kick, another freekick, won after a wriggle past several Icelandic players ended in Emil Halfredsson bringing himdown. It was beaten into the wall, battered away. Minute 96 The final whistle. Mission failed. eliminated England at Euro 2016 to reach the quarterfi- nals. Halldorsson said the Ar- shirt. Minute 10

Post-mortemof aMessimission LionelMessi  has scored616career goals, only 5%ofwhichhavecomeintheopening10minutes. Towatch himat the start of a game is towatch a player doing little but discerning where space exists, why it comes into being and how best it can be exploited. It is a reconnaissance mission inplain sight of the enemy, whoknowwhat he is doing, are fully aware of the threat and almost always powerless to contain it. Almost always, that is. Iceland, Moscow, the opening game of Messi’s finalWorldCupwhile at his peak. Instagram Follow us on @sportstotomalaysia

perhaps press. He does not. Instead, his focus is on the space directly in front of the de- fender. It tempts him back into the centre, where once again he could show for the ball but chooses not to. Nevertheless, his third touch arrives. The ball is swiftly moved on. Lucas Biglia, the recipient of his pass, loses it. Minute seven An expression of discomfort on his face eases after a sharp tug on the back of his shorts. Iceland are tight centrally, he realises, so he moves right again where he is soon fouled by Emil Hallfredsson. The freekick is sent to the other side of pitch, Marcos Rojo taking up possession. As play shifts again to that flank, Messi is the furthest from the ball again. Minute eight Another freekick, andwith it the sense that the stop-start nature of these opening exchanges could be affecting the search. Messi, neverthe- less, takes the ball again. He has taken more set-pieces than open play touches. The kick is low this time, perhaps slightly mis-hit, but still finds the head of Tagliafaco, whose unsighted effort curves around Hannes Halldorsson’s far post. Minute nine Willy Caballero is caught out attempting to play from the back. Iceland have an opening, Birkir Bjarnason fires inches wide. Messi, throughout, is unmoved. He is wiping his nose, still tugging at his shorts, then the back of

Salvio – indicating that he should move on the overlap.Messi himself drops inat rightwing-back, forming part of the defensive line. He only ad- vances again once the ball is progressed well down the far side, but the nascent opening dies out and, eyes forward, he is shuffling back again. Minute four Nicolas Tagliafico is fouled near the far touchline. The ball is dead andMessi is at his quickest. Hav- ing reached the designated spot for the freekick, he realises the ball does not have enough pres- sure. Anewball eventually arrives fromaball boy. He can ready himself for his second touch. Minute five That second touch is a cross for Nicolas Ota- mendi, who glances a header wide of Iceland’s goal. Argentina’s supporters coo, but Messi is unmoved. As soon as the ball had left his foot, he was making his way back out to the right. Minute six Icelandwork theball back to aplayerMessi could

Minute one After the kickoff, a head spin, left, right, over the shoulder. There is space on the nearest flank. His next glance takes inHordurMagnusson, fiveyears his junior yet eight inches taller. Havingmoved a touch too close to Iceland’s leftback, he retreats. He is a safe five yards away from any white shirt already, facing his own defence as they safely circulate possession. Minute two The first leisurely jog comes soon after the first touch, a simple lay-off toEduardoSalvio. Theball is nearby now but so too are opponents, so he abandons the right flank and moves centrally. Suddenly, he finds he has inadvertently become one point of a triangle involving Salvio and Maximiliano Meza. He shows little desire for possession and he does not receive it. Minute three The subtlest of nods half-encourages, half-chides

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