Hiriving Lozano’s goal in the 35th minute to finish off a counterattack proved decisive as Mexico pulled off the first victorious upset of this World Cup by stunning defending champion Germany in the Group E opener at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
El Tri struck often and quickly on the counter, absorbing pressure from the four-time champion before rapidly flying forward upfield in the space vacated by right back Joshua Kimmich time and again.
Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio planned well for this game and made smart use of his substitutions, getting fresh legs in for the final half-hour after Carlos Vela ran himself into the ground and introducing 39-year-old defender Rafa Marquez for the final 15 minutes to help see the result through.
It was also a history-making cap for Marquez as he became just the fourth player in to appear in five World Cup tournaments, joining compatriot Antonio Carabajal, Germany’s Lotthar Matthaus and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
It was the first time in 33 years Mexico had beaten Germany in any match as El Tri also became the first CONCACAF side in eight World Cup matches (1-1-6) to defeat Die Mannschaft.
Germany looked sluggish throughout the contest, coming closest to finding an equalizer in the 40th minute when Toni Kroos had a free kick from 30 yards on the right that Memo Ochoa pushed onto the crossbar. It marked the third time in the last four World Cup tournaments the defending champion dropped its opening match as Germany joined France (2002), Italy (2010) and Spain (2014) on that dubious list.
It was also the first time Die Mannschaft dropped their World Cup opening match since a 2-1 loss to Algeria in 1982. While they will be favored in their remaining group matches against Sweden and South Korea, there is now the chance they will not advance out of group play for the first time since 1934.
Mexico, meanwhile, appear on its way to making the knockout round for the seventh consecutive World Cup. El Tri, of course, have yet to progress beyond the round of 16 since reaching the quarterfinals as hosts in 1986.
The title-holders failed to display their usual ruthless clinical finishing throughout the contest despite amassing 26 shots. There was a brief flurry midway through the second half in which Timo Werner blazed a volley over the bar from 12 yards and Joshua Kimmich’s bicycle kick narrowly went over as it landed on the net.
In the closing minutes of regulation, substitute Mario Gomez missed an open header, and fellow late entrant Julian Brandt glanced the outside of the left post with a 25-yard rocket Ochoa could only watch before being relieved as it ricocheted away.
Lozano’s goal started in Mexico’s half of the pitch where Sami Khedira lost the ball in possession. Hector Moreno started the counter with a pass to Chicharito Hernandez in the center circle, and the striker played a 1-2 with Andres Guardado to build up a head of a steam.
Running on Chicharito’s left was Lozano, who was played into the penalty area. Lozano gathered the ball, cut hard to his right around Mesut Ozil and took another step to his right before lashing a 10-yard shot that beat Manuel Neuer low to the near post.
The first half had plenty of pace on both sides, with Mexico refusing to cede any ground. Germany defender Jerome Boateng made a last-gasp block of a shot in the second minute, and Werner fizzed a shot wide of the left post past a diving Ochoa moments later.
Mats Hummels had an effort from distance right at Ochoa, and Hector Herrera did likewise from 25 yards for El Tri that did not trouble Neuer much. A handball by Kroos gave Mexico a free kick in a threatening position just before the quarter-hour, but Moreno’s downward header was too close to Neuer.
Kimmich provided an inch-perfect cross that Khedira could not re-direct into the goal from close range, though Mexico defender Carlos Salcedo came perilously close to slotting it into his net for an own goal.
While Germany had a lion’s share of possession after Lozano’s goal, Mexico often proved dangerous on the counter and should have done better on a few occasions. Hernandez had a penalty shout rightfully turned down after being sent through the midfield by Miguel Layun in the 70th minute, and Guardado failed to get a good look on target before that after Hernandez’s pass across the box was too wide for Lozano, who then tried to find Guardado.
In the 77th minute, Julian Draxler flashed to the top of the penalty area as Mexico was out of sorts defending a corner, but his instinctive volley following a pass from Kroos was deflected over the line by Edson Alvarez.
Each team collected two yellow cards, with Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels picking up cautions for Germany while Moreno and Hector Herrera did likewise for Mexico.
Next up for Mexico is South Korea at Rostov-on-Don on Saturday, while Germany will look to regroup versus Sweden later that day.