Japan took one major step in advancing out of Group E on Wednesday with Hajime Moriyasu’s squad claiming a crucial victory over group favorites Germany.
Japan overcome a first-half deficit to defeat Germany 2-1 thanks to goals from Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano in an eight-minute span. The Japanese sits second in the group following Spain’s lopsided victory over Costa Rica but will be confident with two matches to go.
Germany kicked things off with an opening penalty-kick goal in the 33rd minute. Ilkay Gundogan stepped up and slotted home from the spot after David Raum was fouled by goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda in the box.
The Germans came close to celebrating a second goal before halftime, but Kai Havertz’s finish was wiped away by VAR. Joshua Kimmich and Serge Gnabry were denied opportunities by Gonda.
Germany’s pressure continued in the second half as Gundogan rattled the post before Gonda made four saves in a rampant period. Japan would turn things around and eventually take control of the scoreline for good.
Doan punished Manuel Neuer in the 75th minute after the veteran shot-stopper could only palm away Takumi Minamino’s original effort. Japan would steal all three points just eight minutes later as Asano finished off Ko Itakura’s pass into the top-right corner.
Gonda finished the match with eight saves as Japan claimed an historic win in Qatar.
Here is a closer look at all of Wednesday’s World Cup results:
Belgium 1, Canada 0
(Michy Batshuayi 44′)
Belgium was pushed to the brink by Canada in Group F action but Michy Batshuayi’s goal paired with Thibaut Courtois’ heroics helped Roberto Martinez’s squad earn a 1-0 victory.
Canada started extremely well in the first half and was given a golden opportunity to take a lead, but Courtois delivered a top save in the 10th minute. Alphonso Davies stepped up after Yannick Carrasco was whistled for a handball, but Courtois dove to his right to deny the Bayern Munich attacker.
Belgium eventually captured the lone goal of the match with Batshuayi connecting with centerback Toby Alderweireld before halftime. Alderweireld’s over the top ball allowed Batshuayi to gain possession in stride before drilling a shot into the far corner of Milan Borjan’s net.
Both teams continued to pile on pressure as the match went on, but Courtois finished with a three-save shutout in goal. Borjan made two saves in the loss for Canada, which next faces Croatia on Sunday.
Belgium will take on Morocco on the same day.
Spain 7, Costa Rica 0
(Dani Olmo 11′, Marco Asensio 21′, Ferran Torres 31′ pk, 54′, Gavi 74′, Carlos Soler 90′, Alvaro Morata 90+2′)
Spain kicked off its World Cup campaign in style with a thumping 7-0 victory over Concacaf opponents Costa Rica. Ferran Torres scored twice while five different Spanish players also got on the scoresheet.
Olmo needed only 11 minutes to break the deadlock, steering a shot past Keylor Navas and into the back of the net. A fortunate deflection allowed the RB Leipzig man the opportunity to put Spain in front.
Marco Asensio doubled Spain’s lead in the 21st minute, getting on the end of Jordi Alba’s cross before drilling a shot past Navas. Navas got a hand to Asensio’s shot, but couldn’t keep it from nestling into the corner.
Ferran Torres added his first goal of the tournament to Spain’s dominant first half, stepping up from the penalty spot and delivering past Navas. Alba was fouled by Oscar Duarte, allowing the Barcelona forward the chance to add to Spain’s advantage.
Torres delivered his second goal of the match in the 54th minute, taking advantage of Bryan Oviedo’s poor defending to score. Gavi became Spain’s youngest-ever World Cup goalscorer after connecting on a volley in the 74th minute and extending La Roja’s lead to 5-0.
Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata added goals in stoppage time to add further humiliation to Costa Rica’s advancement chances.
Spain will face Germany on Sunday while Costa Rica takes on Japan earlier in the day.
Morocco 0, Croatia 0
Morocco and Croatia met up in Group F action on Wednesday, but neither could earn three points in a goal-less draw at Al Bayt Stadium.
Yassine Bounou and Dominik Livakovic each registered two saves apiece for their countries, stepping up in a match which lacked the cutting edge in the final third.
Nikola Vlasic had the best opportunity in the first half, volleying towards goal following a pass from Borna Sosa. However, Bounou smothered the forward’s shot, sending the teams into the halftime break goal-less.
Livakovic denied Noussair Mazraoui’s header in the early stages of the second half to keep things level. Morocco continued to create chances as the half went on and Livakovic punched away Achraf Hakimi’s shot in the 64th minute to deny the PSG fullback.
Neither side could muster up a winner, staying in front of Canada in Group F.