“To sum things up, the first 60 minutes were brilliant from us, the last 30 were incredibly weak,” said German coach Joachim Löw.
“Honestly, shortly after the game I can find no explanation as to how we let a 4-0 lead slip out of our hands. It’s deathly quiet in the changing room: players are laid out on the benches and are totally speechless.
“Had we won the game, we would have been in control of the group, now things are wide open.”
Germany captain Philipp Lahm admitted he was also struggling to explain what went wrong.
“It is very difficult to explain, it is hard to understand how we could be left with a 4-all draw having outplayed our opponents for the first 60 minutes,” he admitted.
“At 4-1, you think, well it’s only a goal, at 4-2 you get a little worried, but before you know it, it’s a 4-4 draw.
“It is unprecedented in international football, maybe only the 3-3 draw between Liverpool and AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final compares.
“We ticked the game off after it was 4-0, that is normal, but we let our concentration slip, made mistakes and lost our form.”
Midfielder Rasmus Elm wrote himself into Swedish football folklore with the dramatic right-footed equaliser as Sweden came back from 4-0 down with an hour gone to claim a point at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium.
Germany had been cruising thanks to two early goals from Miroslav Klose before Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker, then Real Madrid’s Mesut Özil gave the hosts a comfortable lead.
But Erik Hamren’s side roared back as Sweden captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic headed home before Celtic’s Mikael Lustig, then Galatasary’s Johan Elmander rattled the hosts and then Elm produced the shock equaliser.
“It was still a strange feeling in the dressing room, it’s not every day on the international stage that you come back for a 4-4 draw having been 4-0 down,” said Hamren.
“To come to Germany and get a point against one of the best teams in the world is incredible.
“It is something historical, I am very proud of my team and the way they reacted.”
Germany remain top of Group C on ten points with Sweden second in the table on seven, but with a game in hand.
The hosts’ opening goal came after just eight minutes as captain Philipp Lahm attacked down the left wing and fed Marco Reus to square for Lazio’s Klose who fired past Sweden goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson.
It was Klose’s 66th goal on his 126th appearance having been honoured before kick-off with a fair play award for honesty having had a goal he scored for Lazio last month in the Italian league cancelled after admitting he touched the ball.
It was one-way traffic from the hosts as Reus again provided the final scoring pass from the same position when he combined with Thomas Müller to put Klose in the perfect position to double his tally on 15 minutes.
Having also scored in the 6-1 victory over Ireland last Friday, Klose has now scored three times in two games to leave him with 67 international goals, just one short of Gerd Müller’s record for Germany of 68 set in the 1970s.
Sweden had barely launched an attack and Ibrahimovic hardly had a look in as the visitors were allowed only the rare forage into Germany’s half.
The third goal came from an unlikely source as Mertesacker scored only his second on his 84th appearance as he fired home from close range after Müller headed across goal on 39 minutes.
It finished 3-0 at the break, but the fourth came soon after as Müller again supplied the cross and with the Germans lining up to score, Ozil, who celebrated his 24th birthday on Monday, fired home on 55 minutes.
Ibrahimovic showed his class when he turned his first clear chance into a goal after slipping his marker Holger Badstuber to power home Kim Kallstrom’s header on 62 minutes to give the Swedes a lifeline.
With the bit between their teeth, belief flowed through the Swedes who doubled their tally two minutes later as Kallstrom again provided the pass for Lustig to hit their second on 64 minutes with Badstuber again at fault.
Sweden were right back in the game and the German defence suddenly found themselves working overtime to try to keep their opponents at bay.
The third Swedish goal came on 76 minutes when Elmander fired through Badstuber’s legs to leave Löw fuming on the sidelines before Elm’s late equaliser.