Spain reeled Globalism In the round of 16 of the World Cup on Thursday despite losing 2-1 to Japan, who memorably won Group E on a rollercoaster night that saw four-time champions Germany eliminated.
Japan pulled off another stunning victory after defeating Germany in their opening match, with their progression from the ‘Group of Death’ considered one of the greatest achievements in the country’s football history.
For a few minutes, Spain were on the verge of being knocked out when Costa Rica was leading in the other game, but the 2010 champions managed to push through after Germany did them a favor by coming back to beat Los Tecos.
Spain and Germany finished with four points each, but La Roja took the lead on goal difference.
Alvaro Morata sent Spain ahead early with a towering header, but Japan responded in big at the start of the second half.
Goals from Ritsu Doan and Oh Tanaka saw an exciting comeback, just as they did against Germany.
Tanaka’s goal was highly controversial after the officials relied on VAR to rule that Kaoru Mitoma kept the ball in play at a hair’s angle to put it in his path.
Spain struggled to create chances against a solid Japanese defense in the closing stages, with the Asian side knowing that conceding another goal would see them eliminated.
The Japanese players collapsed throughout in celebration, exhausted and elated, while the substitutes marched in celebration.
Spain will meet Morocco in the round of 16, while Japan will play Croatia.
– Roller coaster night –
Both sides made five changes, with Luis bringing in Enrique Morata to lead the line, and giving Alejandro Balde and Neco Williams their debuts.
Japan started with five players back, hoping to keep Spain at bay, but pressed hard in attack to try to capitalize on any mistakes.
Spain are sometimes guilty of blatant defensive errors, and Pau Torres showed it with a sloppy touch that led to Japan’s first chance, volleyed into the side-netting by Junya Ito.
Morata sent La Roja ahead in the 12th minute with a towering header from Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross, reviving the connection that sometimes worked for Chelsea after the striker’s arrival in 2017.
Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu replaced ineffective players Takefusu Kubo and Yuto Nagatomo at the break with Mitoma and Doan, and made immediate profits.
Balde lost the ball under pressure and on the edge of the box Don Doan crushed Unai Simon, who could have done more to keep it out.
Three minutes later and Japan turned the game on its head, Tanaka headed home from goal after Mitoma miraculously kept the ball as it was passed – VAR report.
Spain were stunned and struggled to respond, with Luis Enrique making a raft of substitutions in an attempt to regain control.
The coach, alone and on the edge of the technical area, was unaware that his team faced elimination for a few moments, when Costa Rica surged ahead against Germany in the other game to take a 2-1 lead.
Spain survived, and advanced thanks to a superior goal difference, on a night that was far more terrifying than I expected – and Japan pulled off an elusive feat.
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