Japanese comeback win stuns Germany

Late goals by Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano have earned Japan an incredible 2-1 comeback victory over Germany in the World Cup.

The four-times champions had looked to be cruising to victory on Wednesday via an Ilkay Gundogan penalty but paid a fatal price for missing chances.

The shock result was a repeat of their 2018 World Cup nightmare when, as defending champions, they lost their opener to Mexico and, after another defeat by South Korea, were condemned to a group-stage exit.

"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".

"I believe it is a historic moment, a historic victory," said Japanese manager Hajime Moriyasu.

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 in the Group E clash but, with each missed chance, left the door open 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 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.

Their early dominance was rewarded in the 33rd minute when Joshua Kimmich picked out David Raum in acres of space in the box and goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda clumsily brought him down as he turned.

Gundogan dispatched the penalty.

There was initially little change to the pattern in the second half as Jamal Musiala shot over after a penetrating run and Gundogan clipped a post.

Gonda made amends with four successive saves to deny Jonas Hofmann and Serge Gnabry, keeping his side in the game.

Neuer, appearing in his fourth World Cup, was also alert to save from Hiroki Sakai and did well again soon after to block from Takumi Minamino, only for fellow substitute Doan to smash in the loose ball.

Suddenly buoyed, Japan pushed on and Asano showed strength and technique to bring down a high free kick and hold off defender Nico Schlotterbecknefore hammering the ball past Neuer.

Germany launched all-out attack from then on.

Borussia Dortmund forward Youssoufa Moukoko, a late sub, became the country's youngest World Cup player having had his 18th birthday on Sunday.

But neither he, nor even Neuer who joined the attack, could find an equaliser.

"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."