Japan shocked the football world with an extraordinary surprise win over powerhouses Germany FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Late goals from Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano gave Japan an incredible 2-1 comeback win.
Germany, the four-time world champions, looked set to win a penalty from Ilkay Gundogan on Wednesday but paid a fatal price for missed chances. The shock result was a repeat of their 2018 World Cup nightmare, when the holders lost their opening game against Mexico and were doomed to a group-stage elimination after another defeat by South Korea.
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“It’s a huge disappointment and frustrating,” said Germany captain Manuel Neuer. “We made the opponent strong. Last will made the difference. Japan believed they could win while we thought we could defend the lead.”
Coach Hansi Flick said: “It’s brutally disappointing. We are angry that we lost the game because we had the chances. We have to look ahead. We have a chance of six points.”
Japanese manager Hajime Moriyasu was overjoyed. “I think it’s a historic moment, a historic victory,” he said.
Japan’s Maya Yoshida said: “That’s the beauty of football, sometimes it happens. Now the limelight is on our side, it’s time to dance.”
Germany seemed to be in full control at the beginning of the match in Group E. But with every missed chance, they left the door open for Japan, who showed almost nothing in attack until a series of second-half substitutions injected some energy.
Doan, who plays for Freiburg in the German Bundesliga, equalized in the 75th minute after a rebound. Then Asano, who plays for VfL Bochum in the Bundesliga, showed great ball control and smashed the winner into the goal from a tight angle – which caused an explosion of joy at Japan-Bank.
It was a turn that hardly looked believable as Japan struggled to gain a foothold for most of the game. The German players had lined up hands to mouth for a pre-game team photo in protest for freedom of expression after Neuer was banned from wearing the OneLove armband, but the off-field line did not appear to be a distraction.
“With this defeat and zero points, we’re under pressure, there’s no question about that,” added Flick. “We can only blame ourselves, so now we have to make sure we get out of this. We have to be brave and determined.”
Spain scored seven goals against Coast Rica
Elsewhere, Spain took no chances when they converted seven of their chances against Costa Rica at Doha’s Al Thumama Stadium. After taking the game by a goal within a dozen minutes, La Roja didn’t let up.
They were 3-0 up after half an hour, while New Zealand’s play-off winners just had to try and keep the score low. They didn’t succeed as Spain added four more in the second half.
The seven-goal win wasn’t even flattering, such was Spain’s superiority. Costa Rica managed neither a shot nor a corner.
It was the first time Spain had scored seven goals in a World Cup game and it was achieved with the first starting XI featuring two teenagers (18-year-old Gavi and 19-year-old Pedri) by a team since 1962. It was also an ominous performance for a German side who need to get a result on Sunday when the teams meet.
In the early game on Wednesday Luka Modric’s Croatia got off to a frustrating start to their campaign, with the 2018 runners-up suffering a goalless draw against the stubborn Morocco. The odds were slim, with Real Madrid’s Modric coming closest in the opening game of Group F, which also includes Belgium and Canada.
The Atlas Lions held Croatia well for most of Wednesday’s game but failed to make a breakthrough at Al Khor either.
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