Germany was knocked out of the 2022 World Cup on Thursday after a very exceptional Group E finish, despite its victory over Costa Rica.
At various points in the two matches, fans of Spain and Japan as well as Costa Rica and Germany thought their countries might be on their way to the knockout stage.
Japan completely outplayed Spain in the first half and trailed to an Alvaro Morata goal in the first half, Japan somehow came back to win 2-1 and take the group lead.
Japan’s goal – from Ritsu Dan and Ao Tanaka – came within three minutes early in the second half.
Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2, despite falling behind at one point, but it wasn’t enough as Japan and Spain progressed to the round of 16.
German national team coach Hansi Flick said that the German team was “greatly disappointed”.
“In the first half I was very disappointed and angry with my team and how we let the opponent come back,” Flick told Reuters.
“We wanted to score three or four goals in the first half but then we made mistakes. If we had converted those chances, 16 of them.
But the championship did not define today for us. We didn’t have any competence in this tournament and that’s why we were eliminated.”
The conclusion of Group E means that Japan will face Croatia in the next round, while Spain will play Morocco.
The evening was momentous for another reason – Stephanie Frappart She became the first woman to officiate a men’s World Cup match.
Along with assistants Noiza Pak of Brazil and Karen Diaz of Mexico, the French referee was part of an all-female refereeing trio that was overseeing the match between Germany and Germany.
Nine goals, controversial VAR decisions, knocking the four-time World Cup winner out of contention in the group stage just as Germany was at Russia 2018 – these two Group E matches will live on in the memory for a long time.
Just hours after one European heavyweight, BelgiumAfter being knocked out of the tournament, Spain and Germany faced the challenge, against Japan and Costa Rica, two teams that most football pundits have written off as having little chance of reaching the last 16 before the World Cup begins.
Despite these expectations, this was an evening that began with the prospect of all four teams being able to advance to the next stage.
Within the opening quarter hour of both matches, both European teams seemed determined to advance from the group.
At Al Bayt, Serge Gnabry scored in the 10th minute to give Germany a vital lead as they struggled to rekindle their qualification hopes after a poor start to their campaign when they surprisingly lost to Japan.
At the Khalifa International Stadium, Morata volleyed in a superb cross from right-back Cesar Azpilicueta to put Spain ahead.
In doing so, Morata became the second player to score in his first three World Cup matches for Spain, after Telmo Zarra in 1950, according to Opta.
After the goal, with the two European teams sitting in the qualifying spots, Spain and Germany dominated the game for the rest of the first half, with Spain taking 78% of possession and Germany taking 65% as they restricted the opposing team’s openings respectively.
But soon the supremacy of the European teams was challenged – within minutes of the start of the second half in both matches, the situation in the group completely changed.
As he did in the famous victory over Germany, Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu used his substitutions deftly, chipping away at Dejan and shooting in with his left foot to level with Japan.
Moments later, Tanaka gave Samurai Blue a surprise lead that threw the group into danger.
Tanaka’s goal, however, was not without controversy. A VAR review ruled that the ball had not gone out of play before Tanaka crossed for a goal.
Just when it looked like it couldn’t get any more aggressive – and against the tide of play – Costa Rica managed to equalize against Germany as Yeltsin Tejeda slotted home a rebound after Manuel Neuer had been denied a solid effort by Kendall Waston.
But the mental calculations of coaches, players and fans were just the beginning.
Costa Rica took an amazing lead when Juan Pablo Vargas pushed home after a scramble for goal to leave Germany trailing.
With just over 20 minutes left in the two matches, Spain and Germany – recent World Cup winners – were in danger of going home.
Costa Rica’s hopes were quickly dashed after substitute Kai Havertz scored twice quickly and Niklas Volkrug’s late strike ensured Germany – after a volatile evening – secured three points.
However, Spain’s 7-0 victory over Costa Rica in their first group stage match – thus ensuring a healthy goal difference – now proved the lifeline of Luis Enrique’s side exiting the group and condemning Germany to a third-place finish.
Germany were desperate for a Spain goal to get back into the qualifying spots. But Spain was unable to break Japan’s resolute defence, never bothering Shuichi Gonda on goal, despite seven minutes of extra time.
After the defeat thanks to goal difference, Spain coach Enrique criticized his team’s performance.
“I’m not happy at all. Yes, we qualified, I would have liked to have been at the helm of winning this match. It was impossible because in five minutes Japan scored two goals … we went out and we were dismantled,” Enrique told a Reuters news conference.
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