Leon Goretzka scored two quick-fire early goals on Thursday to help Germany defeat Mexico 4-1 to reach the Confederations Cup final.
Exploiting Mexico’s defensive frailties, Joachim Löw’s inexperienced squad was 2-0 up within eight minutes.
Löw is using the squad to assess his pool of talent, and this one could end the tournament with more silverware for the world champions if they defeat Chile on Sunday in St. Petersburg.
All three German scorers in Sochi were players making their tournament debuts. After Goretzka netted in the sixth and eighth minutes, Timo Werner and Amin Younes scored in the second half.
Despite the convincing scoreline, Germany goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen was kept busy. There were 25 shots on goal but he conceded only in the 89th minute when he was beaten by Marco Fabian’s long-range swerving shot.
Mexico will now head to Moscow to play Portugal in the third-place match on Sunday after paying the price for giving Germany too much space to cut through their ragged defense.
“We didn’t have a good start of the game, and they took advantage,” Fabian said. “We have to acknowledge that we dared to play as equals.
“Sometimes adrenaline plays a trick on us. Sometimes we make mistakes that they take advantage of. We have to learn to be effective and take advantage of their mistakes.”
It was a misplaced header by captain Hector Moreno that freed Goretzka to launch the attack that he completed to put Germany in front. Goretzka seized possession around the halfway line, passed to Benjamin Henrichs on the right flank and accelerated to receive the ball back and sweep in a low shot from 20 yards.
Goretzka beats the keeper again 109 seconds later
Mexico was jolted and had not regrouped when their defence was shredded again inside two minutes. Werner threaded the ball through for Goretzka to slot under the legs of goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa at the near post and claim his third goal of the competition.
Rather than being a platform to build on, Germany eased up and squandered the opportunity for a third goal when Werner struck straight at Ochoa.
And soon Ter Stegen was being repeatedly called into action, using his outstretched right leg to clear a shot from Giovani Dos Santos and diving to block the follow-up from his brother, Jonathan Dos Santos.