Leon Goretzka drives Germany past Mexico into Confederations Cup final
Germany have advanced to the Confederations Cup final with a resounding 4-1 victory against Mexico in Sochi. Despite almost a dozen of their best players being absent from the squad, the world champions’ next generation were clinical against valiant opposition.
On a humid evening by the Black Sea, 37,923 spectators took the Fisht Stadium towards capacity for the first time this tournament. Germany threatened from the opening whistle and within six minutes they had taken the lead. Benjamin Henrichs, 20, made a dangerous run down the right side before picking out Schalke’s Leon Goretzka, who calmly finished from the edge of the area past the Mexico goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa.
A mere 109 seconds later the goal scorer doubled his tally. Timo Werner embarked on a weaving run through the midfield, dispatching an incisive pass to his team-mate and Goretzka again beat Ochoa. Werner, another youthful member of this Germany squad at 21, has been the object of fan abuse throughout a Bundesliga season where he netted 21 goals. “Kobe Bryant has also been booed everywhere and he always been the best,” Werner said defiantly pre-match, and his red-hot form continued in Sochi.
But Mexico, who came from behind in all three of their group-stage games to snatch two wins and a draw, refused to roll over. Neither team had managed a clean sheet at the tournament and it was evident why. The remainder of the first half was unceasing end-to-end football, with both sides unlucky not to score. A chip from the former Manchester United striker Javier Hernández sailed just over Germany’s crossbar, while the Die Mannschaft goalkeeper, Marc-André Ter Stegen, tipped a Héctor Herrera free-kick wide as the break approached.
The chances resumed early in the second half, with Mexico threatening on several occasions and a cross-cum-shot from Germany’s Werner rolling across the Mexican goalmouth. The world champions extended their lead in the 59th minute when an elaborate passing move found Jonas Hector alone on the left side of the penalty box. The winger sent a cutback to Werner, who looked offside on the preceding pass, but the Argentinian referee, Néstor Pitana, elected not to review the striker’s subsequent conversion.
Mexico refused to give up in the final stages, a looping header from Benfica’s Raúl Jiménez going close and Ter Stegen forced into a reflex save from a corner. Finally they were rewarded for their efforts when the substitute Marco Fabián hit a stunning consolation goal from 35 yards out. Ajax’s Amin Younes found a fourth for Germany in injury time to put the game beyond doubt.
Germany now fly to St Petersburg to prepare for the final on Sunday against the South American champions, Chile. Mexico will face Portugal in the third-place playoff at Moscow’s Spartak Stadium. After two semi-finals dominated by attacking play, both matches promise to be exciting affairs.