Top Teams Struggle At World Cup

Germany loses, Brazil draws in World Cup surprises

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on Sunday at the World Cup (all times local):

11:35 p.m.

Parity has come to the World Cup.

Five of the top six nations in the FIFA rankings have played, and none has won. Only two of the top dozen teams have victories.

Top-ranked Germany lost to No. 15 Mexico, second-ranked Brazil tied No. 6 Switzerland, No. 4 Portugal drew 10th-ranked Spain, and No. 5 Argentina tied 22nd-ranked Iceland.

Among other teams in the top 12, only No. 7 France (over No. 36 Australia) and co-No. 12 Denmark (against No. 11 Peru) have victories.

No. 3 Belgium, No. 7 France, No. 8 Poland and co-No. 12 England haven’t played, and No. 9 Chile failed to qualify.


11 p.m.

Switzerland’s well-organized defending held Brazil to a 1-1 draw in their World Cup opener, keeping Neymar and other attackers at bay for the most part.

Brazil midfielder Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring in the 20th minute, with a stylish volley that beat goalkeeper Yann Sommer, bouncing in off the right post. But coach Vladimir Petkovic’s Swiss players kept their composure and dominated in midfield for long spells in the Group E match.

Switzerland midfielder Steven Zuber headed in the equalizer in the 50th. Mexican referee Cesar Ramos dismissed complaints that Zuber had shoved defender Miranda out of the way before meeting a corner from Xherdan Shaqiri.

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

Petkovic kept his promise to frustrate Brazil, which was seeking redemption from its disastrous 2014 World Cup exit with a 7-1 semifinal defeat on home soil by Germany.


10:15 p.m.

Steven Zuber equalized for Switzerland after heading a corner from Xherdan Shaqiri in the 50th minute.

Brazilians players complained that Zuber pushed defender Miranda before the goal but Mexican referee Cesar Ramos dismissed the complaint and the score stands at 1-1.


10 p.m.

FIFA says it is investigating reports of Mexico fans chanting a homophobic slur during the team’s win over Germany at the World Cup.

Some Mexican supporters chanted the slur when Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer prepared to take a goal kick in the 24th minute.

FIFA says “it is collecting the different match reports and potential evidence in regards to the matter, including the one from the anti-discrimination match observer who was present at the game as part of FIFA’s anti-discrimination monitoring system.”

Mexico’s football federation has been repeatedly fined by FIFA over fans chanting the slur.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport canceled two fines against Mexico in November, ruling the chant was “insulting” but not meant to offend, though it left other fines in force.


9:50 p.m.

Brazil leads 1-0 at halftime in the World Cup game against Switzerland after a goal in the 20th minute from Philippe Coutinho.

The Barcelona player beat goalkeeper Yann Sommer with a well-placed shot that curled over the ‘keeper and bounced in of the right post as the well-organized Swiss struggled to contain the Brazilian attack led by Neymar and Gabriel Jesus.

Thiago Silva headed just over the Swiss bar in injury time.

Coach Vladimir Petkovic’s experienced Swiss side remained composed after conceding the goal, dominating in midfield for long spells and with Ricardo Rodriguez and Xheridan Shaqiri testing the Brazilian defense on the two wings


9:30 p.m.

Germany didn’t play the way it usually plays. Coach Joachim Loew isn’t sure why.

Stymied by Mexico’s skillful forwards and speedy counterattacks, the defending World Cup champion played a sloppy first half, failed to take its chances and ultimately conceded a goal that held up in Mexico’s 1-0 victory.

Loew says “We looked nervous and we were not able to play the way we wanted to play. We will have to analyze why that was the case.”

Germany is now in an unfamiliar position. No German team had lost a World Cup opener since 1982. In the four previous World Cups, Germany won its opening matches by a combined score of 20-2.

For a defending World Cup champion, however, the position is more familiar. Three of the past four have failed to make it out of the group stage.

Reminded of that statistic, Loew offered a guarantee.

“We will not suffer that fate,” he said. “We will make it to the next round.”


9:22 p.m.

Philippe Coutinho has scored for Brazil in the 20th minute, firing the ball past Yann Sommer after the Swiss goalkeeper failed to stop a push forward from Neymar and captain Marcelo. The Barcelona midfielder sent his powerful strike curling into the top right corner of the Swiss goal. ___

8:37 p.m.

It’s daunting enough for a smaller country with less of a track record to take on a team like England. But Tunisia’s taking pressure to another level.

Coach Nabil Maaloul has said ahead of Monday’s opening match against England that his team is carrying not only the hopes of 12 million Tunisians but also those of Africa as a whole and of the Arab world.

African teams have made a disappointing start to the World Cup. Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria have lost their first matches. Senegal plays Poland on Tuesday.

On the other hand, Maaloul said England players are having to contend with higher expectations. That’s why he expects the match in Volgograd to be tight.

— Associated Press writer Pan Pylas reported from Volgograd.


8:20 p.m.

Cheers erupted across Mexico as the national team bested Germany in its first match of the 2018 World Cup soccer tournament.

Police have encircled the Angel of Independence monument in Mexico City in anticipation of throngs of fans who traditionally flock there to celebrate big soccer wins. Immediately after the game, some danced in front of the monument. Drivers honked horns and exuberant families ran through the streets waving the Mexican flag and twirling green jerseys in the air.

Mexico beat Germany 1-0, with Hirving Lozano scoring the winning goal. It was the 22-year-old winger’s first World Cup goal.


8:08 p.m.

Brazil coach Tite has stuck to Neymar and core players who have performed well in recent matches. Neymar and Willian will be flanking Gabriel Jesus in attack to kick off the five-time champions’ campaign in Russia.

As expected, Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic fielded a defensive side with Haris Seferovic as the lone striker, and formation that can provide a two-line defense in front of goalkeeper Yann Sommer.


Brazil: Alisson, Danilo, Thiago Silva, Miranda, Marcelo, Casemiro, Paulinho, Philippe Coutinho, Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.

Switzerland: Yann Sommer, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Fabian Schaer, Manuel Akanji, Ricardo Rodriguez, Granit Xhaka, Valon Behrami, Xherdan Shaqiri, Blerim Dzemaili, Steven Zuber, Haris Seferovic.


7:51 p.m.

Mexico has upset Germany 1-0 in their opening World Cup game, leaving the defending champions with a tougher task to qualify for the knockout stages.

In his World Cup debut, Hirving Lozano scored Mexico’s winning goal in the 35th minute, picking up Javier Hernandez’s pass inside the penalty area and dodging Mesut Ozil before firing past Manuel Neuer from 10 yards.

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

Mexico pulled back into a more defensive formation midway through the second half as key players tired and had to withstand heavy pressure from Germany.

Germany is bidding to become the first team to retain the World Cup title since Brazil in 1962. It hadn’t lost an opening game since 1982.


7:35 p.m.

Rafa Marquez has gone on as a second-half substitute for Mexico to become just the third man to play in five World Cups.

The 39-year-old Marquez entered the game in the 72nd minute with Mexico leading defending champion Germany 1-0. He joins fellow Mexican Antonio Carbajal and Germany’s Lothar Matthaus in the elite group.

He played four matches in each World Cup as Mexico was eliminated in the round of 16 each time.


7:15 p.m.

A Colombia fan cycled alone for more than 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) across seven European countries to reach Russia to watch his national team play in the World Cup. The 43-year-old Daniel Quiroga initially was going to make the journey with a brother and a friend, but the other two backed out of the adventure.

Four years ago, Quiroga rode from Colombia to Brazil to the 2014 World Cup with the pair, but was on a motorcycle for that journey.

After the tournament ended, he set a harder challenge for Russia and chose a bicycle.

He started out in Portugal and went through Spain, France, Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia before making it to Russia. He wore a Colombia jersey signed by members of his family and says, with a laugh, that “those signatures gave me even more energy.”


6:55 p.m.

Mexican fans have chanted a homophobic slur at Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer during the World Cup game in Moscow.

FIFA has repeatedly fined the Mexican football federation over the chant. It rang out at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium in the 24th minute of Mexico’s game against Germany on Sunday with the score at 0-0.

Fans in Mexico use the chant to insult opposing goalkeepers as they take a goal kick. Widely considered a slur, some argue there is no discriminatory intent.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport canceled two fines against Mexico in November, ruling the chant was “insulting” but not meant to offend, though it left other fines in force.


6:45 p.m.

Germany is in an unfamiliar position for a World Cup opener — trailing at halftime.

Hirving Lozano scored from 14 yards out in the 35th minute to give Mexico a 1-0 lead in Moscow. He took a pass from Javier Hernandez and wrong-footed Mesut Ozil to score his eighth international goal.

Both sides put pressure on the goalkeepers in a high-energy first half at Luzhniki Stadium. Germany had five shots on goal to Mexico’s four. German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer stopped a header just short of the goal line.

Germany has won its last seven World Cup openers, outscoring opponents 20-2 in its last four.


6:40 p.m.

Hirving Lozano has wrong-footed Germany’s Mesut Ozil and scored from about 14 yards out to give Mexico a 1-0 lead over the defending World Cup champions.

Lozano took a pass from Javier Hernandez and got around Ozil and had a clear path to the net in the 35th minute. It was his eighth international goal.

Both teams had several chances before the opening goal. German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer saved a header, and Germany later had two shots on goal in a 3-minute span.

Germany trailed only once in the last World Cup, 2-1 to Ghana, and has outscored opponents 20-2 in its past four World Cup openers.


6:10 p.m.

Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez is not in the business of sugarcoating the truth ahead of his team’s historic World Cup debut.

He admits Panama has trouble scoring and says it will need a good day to have any chance against Belgium on Monday.

The blunt and honest Gomez doesn’t even hide his starting lineup, the normal procedure for coaches these days — even those trying to keep expectations minimal.

Asked if Panama could match Iceland’s draw with Argentina, he didn’t bother picking the right words. He says this Argentina “is not at the same level as Belgium right now.”

— AP Sports Writer Tim Booth reported from Sochi.


5:50 p.m.

Belgium will keep defender Vincent Kompany on the 23-man roster for the World Cup even though it’s likely to be later in the group stage before the veteran sees the field.

Coach Roberto Martinez said Sunday he would not be making any roster changes. Kompany suffered a groin injury in a friendly against Portugal earlier this month and the Red Devils added Laurent Ciman to their camp as a precaution. Ciman was sent back to Brussels on Saturday to await final word on Kompany’s status.

Martinez says there is a stronger chance now of Kompany now appearing in the group stage and that his experience is important to have around the squad.


4:55 p.m.

Aleksandar Kolarov’s curling free kick in the 56th minute has helped Serbia to a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in its World Cup opener.

Serbia, which missed out on the 2014 World Cup, had the early advantage in a tough group in Russia that includes five-time champion Brazil and Switzerland, who were set to play later Sunday in Rostov-on-Don.

After a scoreless first half, Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas withstood a barrage of Serbian challenges to open the second with the boisterous Costa Rican fans cheering him on at Samara Arena.

But after David Guzman was handed a yellow card, Kolarov curled the free kick over the wall and Navas, who plays for Real Madrid, was not able to reach it.


4:35 p.m.

South Korea coach Shin Tae-yong has warned his players about the new replay system being used for the first time in the World Cup. He’s telling them that the video assistant referee can’t be tricked.

Shin says “the players are aware of this. We are training the players. There are 32 cameras that are targeting the pitch. So you might be able to fool the referee, but you cannot fool the cameras. The players know this, and that is something we have emphasized.”

Shin is famous for using some trickery in his tactics. But he says his players have been schooled about the new system, which will detect a dive or a faked contact with another player.

He says “the VAR has really come to the forefront and it’s become an important part of the game.”


4:15 p.m.

Captain Aleksandar Kolarov has given Serbia a 1-0 lead against Costa Rica. His free kick curled over the wall and diving Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas wasn’t able to reach it before it sailed into the upper right corner in the 56th minute. The free kick came after a yellow card on Costa Rica’s David Guzman.


3:48 p.m.

The opening half between Costa Rica and Serbia was back and forth, right from the start: Aleksandar Mitrovic’s header was off in the opening minute and moments later Marco Urena’s angled shot for Costa Rica was saved in the left corner by Vladimir Stojkovic.

Following a corner kick, David Guzman popped the ball to Giancarlo Gonzalez but his header sailed over the net in the 12th minute. Branislav Ivanovic’s cross was knocked out of the box by Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas three minutes later.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic challenged Navas in the 27th from just outside the box, but Navas fell on the ball.

Urena’s right-foot strike from outside the box in the 39th went over the bar. A short time later Calvo’s chance was wide, and Stojkovic gestured for his side to calm down.

Milinkovic-Savic’s bicycle kick from in front of goal was ruled offside in the 42nd.


3:15 p.m.

Sweden coach Janne Andersson says one of his staff got into a closed South Korea training session and was asked to leave, leading to a squabble between the teams over spying ahead of their World Cup game on Monday.

Andersson says the staffer, who is entrusted with scouting the opposition, thought the practice session at South Korea’s pre-World Cup training camp in Austria was open. Andersson says the coach left when asked and “watched from more of a distance.”

The incident has created a frosty atmosphere between the teams ahead of their game in Nizhny Novgorod.

Andersson says his team analyzes all opponents and the incident has been overblown, but adds “it’s very important that we show respect for opponents … If it has been perceived in another way, we apologize.”


2:40 p.m.

Veteran defender Branislav Ivanovic is set to become Serbia’s most capped international player when he starts against Costa Rica in the World Cup. It will be his 104th international appearance and Serbia’s first at the World Cup in eight years.

The former Chelsea star surpassed Dejan Stankovic, known as “Deki,” who played 103 games for the national team from 1998-2013, through three different eras: Yugoslavia, Serbia-Montenegro and finally Serbia.

Johan Venegas, Francisco Calvo and David Guzman will be making their World Cup debuts for Costa Rica. The rest of the Costa Rica starting lineup was involved in Brazil in 2014, when the team lost a quarterfinal match to Netherlands on penalties.


2:20 p.m.

Midfielder Alan Dzagoev has ruled himself out of Russia’s two remaining World Cup group games because of injury.

Dzagoev hurt his left hamstring during Russia’s opening 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia and tells Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency he’s in pain when walking and will only resume light training Monday.

Dzagoev says “there’s nothing good about the biggest tournament going on without you. I hope I can still play. I hope to God that we make the knockout stages and maybe I’ll be able to play.”

Dzagoev has played 58 times for Russia and was expected to be a key player for the host nation at the World Cup.


12:45 p.m.

Diego Maradona has given his version of an exchange with an Asian fan that witnesses perceived as racist.

British television staff working in Spartak Stadium in Moscow during Argentina’s 1-1 draw with Iceland on Saturday reported seeing Maradona respond to South Korea fans calling his name.

On Twitter, BBC presenter Jacqui Oatley posted that Maradona “obliged with a smile, kiss and wave. Then pulled his eyes to the side in a clearly racist gesture.”

In a Facebook message early Sunday, the Argentina great says he saw “an Asian boy wearing an Argentina T-shirt.”

He adds: “I, from afar, tried to tell them how nice it seemed to me that even the Asians cheer for us. And that’s all, guys, come on.”

FIFA statutes prohibit acts of discrimination by teams, officials and fans at games it organizes.

In a response to The Associated Press, FIFA refers to its anti-discrimination rules without commenting on the incident.

Maradona also apologizes for smoking a cigar in the VIP seats, despite a FIFA ban on smoking at World Cup stadiums.


12:20 p.m.

Moscow police are investigating a taxi crash that injured eight people, including two Mexican World Cup fans, when the driver plowed into pedestrians on a sidewalk near Red Square.

Video circulating on Russian social media and some news websites showed the taxi veering onto the sidewalk Saturday and striking pedestrians. The source of the video was unclear.

City police released a video Sunday of an interrogation session with a man identified as the Kyrgyz taxi driver, in which he says he briefly fell asleep at the wheel in the crash and accidentally accelerated. It was unclear whether the man spoke under duress.

The man says he hadn’t slept in 20 hours, and ran away after the accident because he was afraid that angry bystanders would kill him. He was later detained.

Moscow police would not comment Sunday on whether the crash would affect security measures for the World Cup, which is being held in 11 Russian cities over the next month. Among the security concerns has been the possible use of vehicles as weapons.

The Mexican Embassy told The Associated Press that the two injured female fans met with embassy representatives and were not hospitalized. The Mexican national soccer teams plays against Germany on Sunday in Moscow.