Sweden became the first team to come back to draw from four down against Germany in an extraordinary FIFA World Cup Group C qualifier in Berlin.
For an hour it was a German gala, with Joachim Löw's men leading through two early goals by Miroslav Klose and one each from Per Mertesacker and Mesut Özil. It could have been more, but with 28 minutes left Zlatan Ibrahimović pulled one back and Mikael Lustig, Johan Elmander and – in added time – Rasmus Elm somehow kept Sweden's unbeaten start intact.
Germany, with captain Philipp Lahm back from suspension, began brightly and Thomas Müller hit the post right away, before Marco Reus entered the area and pulled the ball back for Klose to power in. Seven minutes later, Müller and Reus helped Klose to his second of the night and his 67th in total – one shy of the legendary Gerd Müller.
While Löw stated beforehand that Sweden played short passes compared with the long ones employed by the Republic of Ireland – whom Germany had put six past on Friday – intense pressing forced the visitors to punt the ball wide and far like their Dublin hosts had, and they were punished in the same way. Before the interval Müller headed the ball to Mertesacker, who volleyed home from short distance to register only his second international goal.
When Mesut Özil made it 4-0 – Müller once more the provider – it seemed the game was over; in fact it was just starting. Ibrahimović, anonymous until then, slipped away from Holger Badstuber to connect with a long Kim Källström cross and nod over Manuel Neuer. Things got more interesting within two minutes as Källström centred from a similar position and, at the far post, Lustig surprised Neuer.
Lustig almost scored the third Swedish goal after a corner, and Elmander then did make it 4-3 with a low finish after fine work by Alexander Kacaniklic. With 14 minutes left to play, the unthinkable now appeared possible and the crowd in Berlin started to worry.
Tobias Sana, handed his Sweden senior debut minutes before, had already wasted a big chance to level when Neuer fumbled and the substitute missed an empty target from 20 metres. However, Elm duly completed the sensation with fittingly the last move of the match.