On Thursday, Spain were crushed 2-1 by Japan, but the European nation still managed to advance to the round of 16. Amazingly, Japan emerged as the Group E topper on a crazy night that saw four-time winner Germany being eliminated. After defeating Germany in their initial game, Japan achieved another exciting victory and finished at the top of the “group of death”. It unquestionably marks one of the greatest successes for the country in the history of football.
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Spain were in danger of being knocked out when Costa Rica took the lead in the game against Germany. However, the 2010 champions survived after Germany did them a favour by beating Costa Rica 4-2. Spain and Germany both finished with four points, but La Roja advanced to the next round riding on a better goal difference.
In the fixture against Japan, Spain took the lead early on thanks to a spectacular header from Alvaro Morata, but the Asian country dramatically recovered at the beginning of the second half. Similar to their incredible comeback against Germany, they emerged victorious courtesy of goals from Ritsu Doan and Ao Tanaka. Tanaka’s goal was very debatable since the referee used VAR to determine that Kaoru Mitoma had kept the ball in play. However, it got approval after a long check. In the later minutes, Spain struggled to generate chances against a determined Japanese defence because the Asian side was mindful that another goal would send them home.
The dramatic turn of fortunes among Group E teams stunned football enthusiasts on the internet. A Twitter user noted, “No one on earth predicted Japan topping a group with Germany and Spain and Morocco topping a group with Belgium and Croatia, this World Cup is one for the history books man.”
No one on earth predicted Japan topping a group with Germany and Spain and Morocco topping a group with Belgium and Croatia, this World Cup is one for the history books man
— Trey (@UTDTrey) December 1, 2022
An overwhelmed Japanese fan stated, “So proud of Japan for beating Spain! I think Japan will be the only Asian country going into the knockout stage! Repping Asian soccer!”
So proud of Japan for beating Spain! I think Japan will be the only Asian country going into the knockout stage! Repping Asian soccer!
— Kaz Hayashi/林 和行 (@KazHayashi_OT) December 2, 2022
Referring to the controversial VAR check, a person said in disbelief, “Woke up to find out Japan beat Spain because they kept the ball 1mm in play and that’s the most Anime shit I’ve ever heard.”
Woke up to find out Japan beat Spain because they kept the ball 1mm in play and that’s the most Anime shit I’ve ever heard.
— Gigguk (@GiggukAZ) December 2, 2022
An individual sarcastically commented, “That’s some Shaolin soccer you were all playing over there.”
That’s some shaulin soccer you were all playing over there.
— Kifesi Kei, Ph.D (@KifesiKei) December 2, 2022
Another one explained, “Definitely, the world cup has a true definition now, it’s a global event. Can’t believe Japan qualified ahead of Germany and Morocco ahead of Spain. The dreamers.”
Definitely the world cup has a true a definition now, it’s a global event. Can’t believe Japan qualified ahead of Germany and Morroco ahead of spain.😌😌😌The dreamers
— Sam jar ocen (@sam_ocen7) December 2, 2022
Here are some other reactions:
Japan advances, Germany bounced on wild day in Group E
— Tesema.hawase.badaso (@TBadaso) December 2, 2022
Germany sold their soul to get that 7-1 win and Gotze at the World Cup. Losing to England in the Euro’s and now two World Cup group exits is what they get.
— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) December 1, 2022
In their first knockout game, Japan will face Croatia on 5 December at the Al Janoub Stadium, while Spain will play Morocco at the Education City Stadium on 6 December.
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