Germany were knocked out of the 2022 World Cup on Thursday after a pretty extraordinary Group E final, despite beating Costa Rica.
At different points in both matches, fans from Spain and Japan as well as Costa Rica and Germany each thought their countries might be on their way to the knockout stage.
Completely outplayed by Spain in the first half and trailing Alvaro Morata’s first half goal, Japan somehow came back to win 2-1 and top the group.
Japan’s two goals – from Ritsu Dōan and Ao Tanaka – came in the space of three minutes early in the second half.
Germany won 4-2 against Costa Rica, despite falling behind at one point, but that wasn’t enough with Japan and Spain advancing to the round of 16.
German coach Hansi Flick said “the disappointment is huge” for the German team.
“In the first half I was disappointed and very angry with my team and the way we allowed the opposition to come back,” Flick said, according to 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 tournament was not decided today for us. We didn’t have any efficiency in this tournament and that’s why we were eliminated.
The conclusion of Group E means Japan will face Croatia in the next round, while Spain will face Morocco.
The evening was memorable for another reason: Stéphanie Frappart became the first woman to referee a men’s World Cup match.
Alongside Brazilian assistants Neuza Back and Mexican Karen Diaz, the French referee was part of an all-female referee trio overseeing the game between Germany and Germany.
Nine goals, controversial VAR decisions and the four-time World Cup winner knocked out of the competition in the group stage just like Germany were at Russia 2018 – those two Group E games will be remembered for a long time.
Just hours after the elimination of a European heavyweight, Belgium, Spain and Germany took on Japan and Costa Rica, two teams that had been written off by most football pundits as having few chances of reaching the last 16 before the World Cup. The cut has started.
Despite those predictions, it was a night that started with the possibility that all four teams might be able to progress to the next stage.
In the first quarter of an hour of both games, both European teams seemed destined to break out of the group.
At Al Bayt Stadium, Serge Gnabry headed home in the 10th minute to give Germany a vital lead as they struggled to revive their qualification hopes after a poor start to the campaign when they surprisingly lost to Japan .
At the Khalifa International Stadium, Morata headed home a sumptuous cross from right-back César Azpilicueta to put Spain ahead.
In doing so, Morata became the second player to score in his first three World Cup appearances for Spain, after Telmo Zarra in 1950, according to Opta.
After the goal, with both European teams sitting in the qualifying places, Spain and Germany dominated proceedings for the remainder of the first half, with Spain holding 78% of possession while Germany Germany had 65% by limiting the opposing team’s openings respectively.
But the preeminence of the European teams was soon to be questioned – within minutes of the start of the second half of both games, the situation in the group had completely changed.
As he did in the famous victory over Germany, Japanese coach Hajime Moriyasu used his substitutes masterfully, bringing in Dōan and his left-footed strike brought Japan level.
Moments later, Tanaka gave Samurai Blue a shock lead that put the group in danger.
Tanaka’s goal did not come without controversy, however. A VAR review concluded the ball was not out of play before Tanaka hit home the cross for a goal.
Just when things looked like they couldn’t get crazier – and totally against the run of play – Costa Rica leveled the scores against Germany as Yeltsin Tejeda smashed a rebound after Manuel Neuer couldn’t. hold off a powerful effort from Kendall Waston.
But the mental math for coaches, players and fans was just beginning.
Costa Rica took a stunning lead as Juan Pablo Vargas headed home after a frantic scramble to leave Germany behind.
With just over 20 minutes remaining in both games, Spain and Germany – two recent World Cup winners – were in danger of heading home.
Costa Rica’s hopes were quickly dashed by a quick brace from substitute Kai Havertz and a late Niclas Füllkrug goal.
However, Spain’s 7-0 victory over Costa Rica in their first group game – ensuring a good goal difference – now proved a lifeline for Luis Enrique’s side as they climbed out of the group. and condemned Germany to finish third.
Germany desperately needed a Spanish goal to climb back into the qualifying spots. But Spain failed to break through a resolute Japan defense and never really troubled Shūichi Gonda in goal, despite seven minutes of added time.
After scratching through his goal difference, Spain coach Enrique criticized his team’s performance.
“I’m not happy at all. Yes, we qualified, I would have liked to be on top to win this match. It was impossible because in five minutes Japan scored two goals… we were out, we were dismantled,” Enrique told a news conference, according to Reuters.
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