Germany’s first match at the Rio Olympics saw Serge Gnabry come on as a substitute to change the game against Mexico. In the Olympiamannschaft’s second game against South Korea the Arsenal winger was the saviour again – this time with a free-kick in injury time. The 3-3 draw sees Horst Hrubesch’s side move onto two points with a final against group whipping boys Fiji remaining – and their place in the knockout round still in the balance.
The Koreans were never going to be pushovers, but most pundits would have expected Germany to get their campaign back on track at the Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, site of the Mannschaft’s 4-0 victory over Portugal in the World Cup in 2014.
A topsy-turvy affair
For neutrals, it was an exciting game. For German fans, not so much as they continued their dance with elimination.
The Koreans, who hammered the Fijians 8-0 in their first match – took the lead early after twenty-five minutes through Hwang Hee-chan, only for Gnabry to net the equaliser eight minutes later. In what was an even contest, Germany took the lead ten minutes into the second half. Julian Brandt combined well with Davie Selke, who dinked the ball smartly over the Korean ‘keeper.
The lead didn’t last long. Germany’s defence has resembled Swiss cheese in this tournament, and just two minutes later former Bayer 04 Leverkusen man Son Heung-min equalised for the Koreans.
A dramatic finale
Germany were the team pressing for the win, but it was the Koreans who re-took the lead with just three minutes left – leaving the Germans on the brink of elimination. Suk Hyun-jun found the net after more defensive uncertainty, and Hrubesch’s side knew they had to throw everything forward.
With some good old German grit – and a little luck – they kept their hopes alive. With the regulation ninety minutes already up, Gnabry’s free-kick took a horrible deflection to leave the Korean ‘keeper completely helpless to snatch the crucial point.
One could say that they “Gnabbed” a point.
Nils Petersen celebrates as the ball hits the back of the South Korean net. Serge Gnabry (out of picture) is the hero again.
Where they stand
The second draw for the Olympiamannschaft sees them sitting in third place on two points, with both Mexico – 5-1 winners over Fiji – and the Koreans joint top on four points each. The final match against the Fijians should see plenty of goals, and the Germans know what they need to do. Regardless of the result in the other match, a five-goal win over the Fijians will book their place in the last eight.
The women’s team
Silvia Neid’s team are in a slightly better position than their male compatriots, but are also not certain of a quarter-final spot. A fighting 2-2 draw from two goals down against Australia secured a crucial point after their 6-1 win over Zimbabwe, leaving them needing a point from their final match against top-of-the-table Canada.
The German women have a seven goal advantage over Australia who are three points behind, but one should expect the Aussies to put a good few goals away against Zimbabwe – by far the weakest team in the group. A German defeat against Canada, coupled with a big Aussie win, could make things interesting.