ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia -- Despite two losses, South Korea still have hopes of reaching the knockout stage at the 2018 FIFA World Cup after Germany beat Sweden in their Group F match on Saturday.
South Korea lost 2-1 to Mexico in their second match in Group F at Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don earlier in the day. The latest result gave South Korea their second loss in the tournament following their 1-0 defeat to Sweden in Nizhny Novgorod on Monday.
Even with two straight defeats, South Korea are not mathematically out for the round of 16 contention in the group after Germany beat Sweden 2-1 thanks to the last minute goal by Toni Kroos.
South Korea national football team players walk off the pitch after the first half of the 2018 FIFA World Cup match between South Korea and Mexico at Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on June 23. (Yonhap)
Germany were stunned by Mexico 1-0 in their opening match, but with their latest win, the 2014 World Cup champions are back on for their title defense.
A draw or a win by Sweden would have meant the end of South Korea's knockout stage hopes at the 2018 World Cup regardless of their last Group F match against Germany. The match between two Europeans were tied 1-1 even after the 90-minute regulation, but Kroos' free kick in the second half stoppage time lifted Germany to an improbable win, while also keeping South Korean hopes alive.
With Mexico in the driver's seat thanks to two wins, the two European teams now have one win and one loss each, while South Korea are last in the group with two losses.
However, if South Korea beat Germany and Mexico defeat Sweden in their final group stages matches, then three teams will be tied at one win and two draws, meaning they will have to count tiebreakers, first with goal difference and then goals scored.
South Korea are minus-2 in goal differences after netting one and surrendering three goals, while both Germany and Sweden are at zero.
The one scenario in which South Korea will reach the round of 16 is this: if South Korea defeat Germany by at least two goals and Sweden lose to Mexico, then South Korea will finish in second place thanks to a superior goal difference.
In that case, Mexico will win the group with nine points. South Korea will have three points and a goal difference of zero, and both Germany and Sweden, though they will also have three points apiece, will be in the minus column in goal difference.
In their previous nine World Cups, South Korea have collected at least a draw in group stages, except in their tournament debut in 1954 in Switzerland (two losses) and in 1990 in Italy (three losses). (Yonhap)