Toni Kroos: Critics in Germany were hoping we'd crash out of World Cup
Toni Kroos says his dramatic late winning goal against Sweden will upset many of Germany's critics at home whom he believes were rooting for die Mannschaft to be eliminated from the World Cup.
After falling behind early on Saturday, Germany were staring at their first-ever group-stage exit at a World Cup, but Marco Reus got a goal back just after half-time and Kroos made their task of advancing much easier when he curled a shot home from a set piece in the 95th minute to seal a 2-1 win.
Germany had been inundated with criticism after losing to Mexico in the opening match, but Kroos was pleased to make those who doubted him and his teammates wait for any vindication.
"I had the feeling that a lot of people would be happy in Germany if they eliminated us, but we are not going to make it so easy for them," Kroos told reporters after the game. "We will not be sent to the streets easily."
Kroos also took the blame for allowing Sweden to take the lead in the 32nd minute, as he gave the ball away and then was marking Ola Toivonen on the counter-attack but allowed the Sweden forward to run in behind him to score.
But Kroos also thought he made up for it in the end.
"Sweden's first goal is my fault, I assume the responsibility, but it was fixed by the end, right?" he said.
Kroos was heavily involved as Germany pushed for a winner, completing 15 passes after Jerome Boateng was sent off -- as many as Sweden's entire team in that time. Overall, Germany also completed 86 percent of their 744 passes, with Kroos completing 117 of his 128 -- the second-most completed by a player in Russia this month.
"When you touch the ball 400 times per game, it's normal that you can lose the ball a couple of times," he said. "Anyway, I accepted my fault."
Germany boss Joachim Low was pleased that Kroos had the opportunity to make amends.
"I was very pleased for him," Low said. "He was obviously involved in the mistake with the Swedes scoring the first goal. It was an unfortunate incident but what he did very well was this free kick in the dying minutes.
The coach said Kroos' fortunes were symbolic of the game as a whole.
"Of course this was a thriller, full of emotions, a rollercoaster ride," Low added. "The last couple of minutes were full of drama but those matches exist in football. This is something that happens time and again and that is kind of the attractiveness for football fans that you have these matches."
Low said he knew Germany would find it hard to break down the Swedish defence but told his players at half-time to keep playing their usual brand of precision football.
"I told them to keep their calm in the next 45 minutes and to not start panicking and try to work long, high balls but to continue with short passes and go vertical to the wings and try to be incisive," Low told reporters.
"Something that I did appreciate was that we didn't lose our nerve, we didn't panic after going down. We kept a level head, we said we needed to keep passing and tire the Swedes out and open up spaces. And in the second half the pressure built up more and more.
"We missed a couple of good chances but I appreciated the spirit of the team, we never lost hope of winning the match. The goal in stoppage time, there was bit of luck involved but it was also about believing in ourselves and powering on."
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