A Fifa Women’s World Cup full of shocks had its biggest yet when world No 2 Germany were dumped out in the group phase on Thursday following a stalemate with South Korea, with debutants Morocco progressing instead.
Germany’s 1-1 draw with the Koreans coupled with Morocco’s surprise 1-0 victory over Colombia saw the European side suffer their earliest exit in Women’s World Cup history.
The two-time former champions and one of the pre-tournament favourites follow Brazil, Italy and Olympic champions Canada out of the competition as the group stage concluded.
Colombia topped Group H despite losing and will face Jamaica in the last 16.
Morocco progressed into the knockouts on their World Cup debut also with two wins and a defeat, and meet France next. Germany were third and condemned to an early flight home.
“To be honest, it’s still hard to understand,” said captain Alexandra Popp, who scored the German goal and was their chief threat throughout, to German TV network ZDF.
“I still can’t quite understand what happened here.”
Coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg said that there was “a lot of uncertainty today”.
“In the end you have to say that our performance was not enough.”
The 2003 and 2007 winners Germany came into the game in front of just under 39,000 in Brisbane knowing that a win over South Korea would put them in the last 16.
But they started badly, conceding to a smart Cho So-hyun finish after just six minutes and looking shaky at the back early on.
Coached by Englishman Colin Bell, South Korea looked nothing like the team that lost 2-0 to Colombia and 1-0 to Morocco.
Germany equalised just before half-time with a Popp header but for all their possession, the 2022 Euros finalists failed to get the winner they desperately needed.
Popp thought she had won it in the second half with another fierce header, but it was ruled out by VAR for off-side.
Sydney Lohmann’s effort went just over deep in stoppage time and Germany now needed a favour from Colombia.
A draw would have been enough for Germany had Morocco not sprung a surprise of their own in Perth.
Anissa Lahmari’s goal in first-half stoppage time, after captain Ghizlane Chebbak’s penalty kick was spectacularly saved, won it for Morocco.
With the Morocco game ending slightly before events in Brisbane, the Atlas Lionesses faced an anxious wait.
When Germany’s fate was sealed the Moroccan players went wild on the pitch.
The Koreans finished bottom of the group with one point but at least salvaged some pride.
Morocco beat Colombia
It was a fairytale result for Morocco, who have rebounded from a humiliating 6-0 drubbing on their debut against Germany with wins over South Korea and Colombia.
In front of 17,342 fans, the sole goal arrived moments before half-time when Ibtissam Jraidi was impeded in the box by a clumsy Daniela Arias.
Captain Ghizlane Chebbak’s penalty kick was spectacularly saved by lunging goalkeeper Catalina Perez, who dived to her left.
But Sakina Ouzraoui pounced on the deflection and her nifty pass found Lahmari who made no mistake from close range.
Colombia, wearing their yellow shirts, fielded a full-strength team despite having effectively qualified to the last 16 before this game.
Real Madrid striker Linda Caicedo, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 15 but made a full recovery, took her place after x-rays cleared her of any health issues.
Caicedo, who scored goals in Colombia’s wins against South Korea and Germany, had suffered breathing difficulties against the Germans just days after collapsing in training with chest pain.
An attacking Morocco continued to dictate the early exchanges with Chebbak and Fatima Tagnaout particularly influential.
Tagnaout set up Lahmari whose long-range strike on the half hour sailed well over the bar.
Caicedo had limited impact and copped an errant tackle to her foot which had her writhing on the turf.
She was finally involved just before half-time with several menacing dashes down the right, but Colombia couldn’t capitalise.
Morocco made them pay with Lahmari’s goal putting the group on a knife’s edge at the interval.
Colombia came out aggressively and almost equalised on the hour when Daniela Montoya’s bullet was brilliantly saved by Morocco goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi.
They continued to press with Ramirez slamming a powerful shot from a tight angle into the right post.
But Morocco hung on to trigger wild celebrations from their players.