Japan have shocked the football world with an extraordinary upset victory over powerhouses Germany at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Late goals by Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano earned Japan the incredible 2-1 comeback victory.
Germany, the four-time World Cup champions, had looked to be cruising to victory on Wednesday via an Ilkay Gundogan penalty, but paid a fatal price for missed chances. The shock result was a repeat of their 2018 World Cup nightmare, when the defending champions lost their opener to Mexico, and after another defeat by South Korea were condemned to a group-stage exit.
'UNFORGIVABLE': Socceroos under fire after loss at World Cup
"This is a huge disappointment and frustrating," Germany captain Manuel Neuer said. "We made the opponent strong. The final desire made the difference. Japan believed they could win while we thought we could preserve the lead."
Coach Hansi Flick said: "It is brutally disappointing. We are annoyed we lost the game because we had the chances. We have to look forward. We have the chance for six points".
Japanese manager Hajime Moriyasu was over the moon. "I believe it is a historic moment, a historic victory," he said.
Japan's Maya Yoshida said: "This is the beauty of football, sometimes it happens. Now the spotlight is on our side, it's time to dance."
Germany looked in total command early in the Group E clash. But with each missed chance they left the door ajar for Japan, who showed almost nothing in attack until a series of substitutions injected some energy in the second half.
Doan, who plays for Freiburg in the German Bundesliga, equalised in the 75th minute after following in a rebound. Then Asano, who plays for VfL Bochum in the Bundesliga, showed lovely control and smashed the winner in from a tight angle - causing an explosion of joy among the Japan bench.
It was a turnaround that looked scarcely believable as Japan struggled to get any foothold for most of the game. The German players had lined for a pre-match team photo with hands over their mouths in a protest in favour of free speech after Neuer had been barred from wearing the OneLove armband, but the off-field row did not seem to be a distraction.
"With this defeat and zero points, we are under pressure, there's no question about that," added Flick. "We can only blame ourselves, so now we have to make sure we can come out of this. We need to be courageous and decisive."
— TEAMtalk (@TEAMtalk) November 23, 2022
Can’t believe Japan did unto Germany what Saudi did to Argentina😭
Only Guinness can make me happy rn.
— Arsenal’s bunny. (@Bubble_minakie) November 23, 2022
japan take a bow lads, insane performance
— hotay 🇧🇷 (@moehotay) November 23, 2022
JAPAN OH MY GOD 😱😱😱 this world cup !!!!!!
— 💖CAMERON💖 (@CAM3R0NPH1L1P) November 23, 2022
USA really might win the World Cup !! Japan taking down Germany. Saudi Arabia shocking Argentina. Anything is possible !!!
— Chris Williamson (@CWilliamson44) November 23, 2022
World Cup is getting more interesting 🚀🚀
another shocking moment in football
JAPAN BEAT GERMANY!!! pic.twitter.com/PmydXcXHdr
— frimtee | NFT NG 🇳🇬🎒 (@frimtee_) November 23, 2022
Spain put seven goals past Coast Rica
Elsewhere, Spain took no chances as they took seven of their opportunities against Costa Rica in Doha's Al Thumama Stadium. Having seized hold of the match with a goal inside a dozen minutes, La Roja made sure not to let go.
By the half-hour they were 3-0 up with New Zealand's playoff conquerors reduced to trying to keep the score down. That they failed to do, with Spain adding another four in the second half.
The seven-goal victory was not even flattering, such was Spain's superiority. Costa Rica failed to manage either a shot or a corner.
It was the first time Spain had scored seven goals in a World Cup match, and was achieved with the first starting XI featuring two teenagers (18-year-old Gavi and 19-year-old Pedri) by any team since 1962. It was also an ominous performance for a German side needing to gain a result when the teams meet on Sunday.
In Wednesday's early match, Luka Modric's Croatia made a frustrating start to their campaign, with the 2018 runners-up held to a goalless draw by stubborn Morocco. Chances were sparse, with Real Madrid's Modric among those coming closest in the opening match in Group F which also features Belgium and Canada.
The Atlas Lions contained Croatia well for most of Wednesday's game but also failed to manage a breakthrough in Al Khor.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.