Germany ended their World Cup qualifying qualifying campaign on a high note as they beat Sweden 5-3 in a thrilling match in Solna. Andre Schuerrle was the hat-trick hero for the visitors, who saw a four-goal lead erased by the Swedes a year ago but this time managed to take three points as they finished atop Group C with 28 points from 10 matches.
The Swedes, who finished as Group C runners-up, stunned their guests in the first half as they earned a 2-0 lead. Six minutes into the match, Tobias Hysen latched onto Sebastian Larsson's through-pass and slotted the ball through Manuel Neuer's legs as he opened the scoring.
Germany took some time to rebound, but gathered momentum after Thomas Mueller's header hit the woodwork. But it was the hosts who scored next, with Alexander Kacaniklic racing onto Kim Kallstrom's pass and finishing on 42 minutes.
The visitors scored a critical goal moments before halftime as Max Kruse's pass rather fortuitously deflected over the Swedish defense to Mesut Ozil, who finished with all the composure of an experienced striker.
Joachim Loew's side stormed out of the gate in the second half and were 4-2 ahead by the 66th minute. Mario Goetze, who had replaced Thomas Mueller at the break, produced an unstoppable finish (53') before Schuerrle (57', 66') netted a quickfire brace.
Hysen responded to make it 4-3 on 69 minutes as he volleyed home following a free kick, but Schuerrle put the match to rest 14 minutes from full-time as he cut inside from the left and netted a curling beauty just inside the far post.
As it did in the fixture a year ago, Sweden vs. Germany was an eight-goal thriller. But this time, die Mannschaft took all three points thanks to the magic of Schuerrle, Goetze and Ozil.
Key Player Grades
Andre Schuerrle: A+
Entrusted with a start for a second consecutive game, Schuerrle repaid Loew's confidence in him with an excellent performance. His clever work started the sequence that led to Goetze's equalizer and he used raw pace and power to force Germany's go-ahead goal.
With the result still in the balance, he brilliantly added another goal, sweeping past the Swedish defense before netting confidently. And finally, he curled a brilliant effort from distance to complete his hat-trick and put the result to rest. An absolutely brilliant performance from the Chelsea man.
Mesut Ozil: A
Restored to his natural position behind the main striker, Ozil was in fine form. The Arsenal man orchestrated play well for Germany and, after squandering a chance on the half-hour mark, clinically pulled a goal back for the visitors before the break.
After halftime, he assisted Goetze's equalizer before coming off with a knock to his knee. Arsenal fans will be biting their nails until the extent of his injury is formally announced.
Mario Goetze: A
Playing in his first game since August, Goetze came off the bench at halftime and performed as though he'd not missed a beat. The Bayern man equalized with a brilliant and unstoppable finish and later set up Schuerrle for Germany's third goal.
It was Goetze's best performance since March, and a welcome sign for Bayern fans that their €37 million man may finally be ready to show the full extent of his talent.
Tobias Hysen: A
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic suspended, Hysen provided the brilliance for Sweden. The Goteborg striker stunned the visitors with his clinical finish to open the scoring and his volley to make it 3-4 was absolutely stunning. Sweden needed an efficient striker on Tuesday and they had one in the form of Hysen.
Alexander Kacaniklic: B+
Sweden's best source of goals on Tuesday was the counterattack and Alexander Kacaniklic was a great source of firepower from midfield. The Fulham man clinically finished to give Sweden their second goal and his quickness out of midfield was always a threat to the visitors.
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