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story.lead_photo.caption Mexico’s Hirving Lozano (right) scores past Germany’s Toni Kroos during Sunday’s World Cup match at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. It was Mexico’s first victory over Germany in a competitive match.

MOSCOW -- Defending World Cup champions have found it hard to get out of the group stage lately, and Germany is proving no exception.

The 2014 champions, ranked No. 1 in the world, were exposed defensively and surprisingly beaten by Mexico 1-0 on Sunday, putting its hopes of advancement in doubt.

Well, not everyone is in doubt.

"We will make it," Germany Coach Joachim Loew said. "There's no reason to fall apart because you lose one game."

Hirving Lozano scored the lone goal in the 35th minute, picking up Javier Hernandez's pass inside the penalty area and beating Mesut Ozil before shooting past Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer from 10 yards.

The goal decided the match -- a match Germany didn't expect to lose.

"I don't know if it's the biggest victory in [Mexico's] history, but one of the biggest for sure," Lozano said. "My teammates and I did some great work. We all ran our hearts out. This is the result of all that hard work."

Three of the previous four defending World Cup champions failed to reach the knockout stage -- France, Italy and Spain. Two of them lost their opening matches while the Italians had to settle for a draw.

The Germans are bidding to become the first team to retain the World Cup title since Brazil in 1962, but now have won only one of their last seven games in all competitions. They hadn't lost an opening game since the then-West Germany fell 2-1 to Algeria in 1982.

Mexico had never beaten Germany in a competitive match but was transformed from the team which lost to the Germans 4-1 in last year's Confederations Cup.

Lozano, a 22-year-old forward nicknamed "Chucky," got Mexico going with a deflected shot over the bar in the first minute. That set the tone for Mexico to torment Germany on the counterattack, with Lozano taking advantage of right back Joshua Kimmich's tendency to go forward.

"We were nervous, and we weren't playing the game we wanted to play," Loew said. "We need to see what caused this."

After Lozano's goal, Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa pulled off a spectacular save to keep the score even, palming Toni Kroos' shot onto the crossbar.

With key players tiring in the second half, Mexico pulled back and substituted both Lozano and Carlos Vela. Germany began dominating, but when it broke through the Mexican defense, the shooting was poor.

Seeking defensive reinforcement, Mexico Coach Juan Carlos Osorio brought on 39-year-old veteran Rafael Marquez to play in his fifth World Cup.

"You had the feeling that the ball just wouldn't go in anyhow," Loew said. "Everyone's very disappointed."

Mexico still has to play South Korea and Sweden, which Osorio called "a tough nut to crack."

Germany needs points from matches against Sweden on Saturday and South Korea on June 27 to avoid elimination.

Neuer, who started his first competitive game since September, said Germany is aware that another loss would end its World Cup run.

"We're already in the knockout stages," Neuer said, "because we only have finals now."

BRAZIL 1, SWITZERLAND 1

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia -- Brazil joined the list of big teams struggling to win their opening matches at the World Cup in Russia.

The five-time champions were held to a draw by Switzerland, a few hours after four-time champion Germany was beaten by Mexico 1-0.

Philippe Coutinho gave Brazil the lead in the 20th minute with a volley that bounced in off the right post. Steven Zuber then headed in the equalizer in the 50th. Mexican referee Cesar Ramos dismissed complaints that Zuber had shoved defender Miranda before getting to the corner from Xherdan Shaqiri.

"I was pushed out of the way. There is video of what happened and the referee could have seen it. But it didn't happen," Miranda said. "We got a draw but this is only the beginning for us. We knew this game wasn't going to be easy."

Ramos also ignored a penalty claim late in the second half when Gabriel Jesus was wrestled to the ground by Switzerland defender Manuel Akanji.

Swiss players ended up with three yellow cards, and 10 of the 14 fouls they committed were on Brazil forward Neymar.

Switzerland Coach Vladimir Petkovic described the incident against Miranda as an "ordinary challenge." He also dismissed charges that Neymar had been treated harshly.

"Of course, neutralizing Neymar was a key ingredient of our game," he added.

Switzerland dominated the midfield for long spells against a Brazil team that lost its previous World Cup match 7-1 to Germany in the 2014 semifinals.

"I am proud of their determination," Petkovic said of his team. "The first 40 minutes were tough for us, and at halftime I told the players to stay cool and press forward. They did, and it worked."

Besides Brazil and Germany, Argentina was held to a 1-1 draw by Iceland on Saturday, and Spain and Portugal played to a 3-3 draw on Friday.

SERBIA 1, COSTA RICA 0

SAMARA, Russia -- Aleksandar Kolarov scored from a left-footed free kick in the 56th minute, and Serbia opened its World Cup with a over Costa Rica.

After David Guzman was handed a yellow card, Kolarov curled the ensuing free kick over the wall. Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who plays for Real Madrid, couldn't reach it.

At a glance

SUNDAY’S GAMES

Mexico 1, Germany 0

Serbia 1, Costa Rica 0

Switzerland 1, Brazil 1, tie

TODAY’S GAMES

All times Central

Sweden vs. South Korea, 7 a.m.

Belgium vs. Panama, 10 a.m.

Tunisia vs. England, 1 p.m.

Sports on 06/18/2018

Print Headline: Mexico knocks champs onto ropes

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