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World Cup Rewind: Japan shocks Germany, Belgium edges Canada, and more


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.


  1. Herdman brought Larin off the bench and started Atiba Mid 30s Hutchinson. quozzel – Did u not post Malik Tillman plays like Pogba? Are you the guy that posted Busio is the next coming of Pirlo? Are you not the person who compared this US team to the ‘02 squad? You are also culpable for saying you don’t want a single MLS player on the USA squad. You posted a few articles back that you didn’t know that Acosta was capped under JK. Now, you going to tell me, I’m putting words in your mouth. What ever- Quozzel Don’t make me go back and pull up your posts! Im not as good as researcher as Bizzy or JR, but I’m thorough. Mr. ‘black players play a certain way, Latino players a certain way!’ You never posted that either, do you not remember our discussion? I do!

    • acosta came through the same FCD academy and US U17/U20 pipeline that produced mckennie. if he’d made a european move he’d be pimped by the snobs. he’s been inconsistent but on a good day he can defend, crank a long shot, and hit some decent long passes. he has been in a series of US coaches’ camps because he has these abilities and was as much a pipeline kid as the big names and even fanboy favorites like LDLT. i wish it was performance — he is uneven how he plays — but i think it’s simply career choices ie he’s stayed in MLS. he had that absolute howitzer against colombia in 2018. but 2018 basically evaporated from coaching memory and a breed of fans takes their lead from the coach. green disappeared never to return. a set of U23s and U20s took most of the cycle to overcome being busted back down to youth ball.

      MLS to me at this point is catching up to MX (hence starting to win CCL), is as good as the C’ship, and is better than SPL, most of Holland, and a list of second tier European leagues. There are a short list of leagues around the world better than us, and 3/4 of MLS’ World Cup participation represent about a dozen other qualified countries. It’s an obnoxious snobby joke pretending what’s good enough for most of the rest of the world is beneath us. It’s about a decade stale as a quality assessment — roughly when they began allowing 3 DPs and teams started spending $15-20m on payrolls, now headed over 20, Giovinco, etc.

    • Hahaha, Imperative…..leagues have levels. It’s judged by a calculate Soccer Power Index or SPI to include the best estimate of a team’s overall strength, which incorporates club soccer data going back over a period of time, as well as from play-by-play data produced. As we both know that doesn’t mean a team for a lower league cannot beat a team from an upper league, as that is the beauty of the game. With that being said:

      1. Barclays Premier League: Manchester City (Best) / Nottingham Forest(worst)
      2. German Bundesliga: Bayern Munich (Best) / VfL Bochum (Worst)
      3. Spanish Primera Division: Barcelona: (Best) / Elche (Worst)
      4. Italy Serie A: Napoli: (Best) / Salernitana (worst)
      5. French Ligue 1: Paris Saint-Germain (Best) / Auxerre (worst)
      6. Dutch Eredivisie: Ajax: (best) / Excelsior (worst)
      7. Portuguese Liga: FC Porto (best) / Pacos Ferreira (worst)
      8. Brasileiro Série A: Palmeiras (best) / Juventude (worst)
      9. Mexican Primera Division: Club América(best) / Atlético San Luis (worst)
      10. Russian Premier Liga: Zenit St Petersburg (best) / Torpedo Moskow (worst)
      11. English Championship: Sheffield United: (best) / Rotherham United (Worst)
      12. Belgian Jupiler League: Genk (best) / RFC Seraing (worst)
      13. Austrian Bundesliga: FC Salzburg (best) / Cashpoint SC Rheindorf Altach (worst)
      14. Turkish Turkcell Super Lig: Fenerbahce (best) / Istanbulspor (worst)
      15. Major League Soccer: Philadelphia Union (best) / DC United (worst)
      16. Danish SAS-Ligaen: FC Copenhagen (best) / Lyngby (worst)
      17. Scottish Premiership: Celtic (best) / Kilmarnock (worst)

      “MLS to me at this point is catching up to MX” …..ABSOLUTELY!!!
      “MLS to me are as good as the English Championship”…..Absolutely not
      “MLS to me is better than SPL”…..Absolutely-
      “MLS to me at this point is better than most of Holland”….Absolutely Not

      “There are a short list of leagues around the world better than us….” WHAT??? I don’t even know what to say about that one….but do you ACTUALLY watch anything other than MLS or are you just passionately on one of your rants? haha

      MLS is coming up and get better and better every year (CONCACAF champions show this) and CANADA has shown you can use THE RIGHT MLS PLAYERS effectively, but one thing is for sure, MLS as a whole is no where near where YOU THNK we are.

  2. Herdman brought Larin off the bench and started Atiba Mid 30s Hutchinson. quozzel – Did u not post Malik Tillman plays like Pogba? Are you the guy that posted Busio is the next coming of Pirlo? Are you not the person who compared this US team to the ‘02 squad? You are also culpable for saying you don’t want a single MLS player on the USA squad. You posted a few articles back that you didn’t know that Acosta was capped under JK. Now, you going to tell me, I’m putting words in your mouth. What ever- Quozzel Don’t make me go back and pull up your posts! Im not as good as researcher as Bizzy or JR, but I’m thorough. Mr. ‘black players play a certain way, Latino players a certain way!’ You never posted that either, do you remember our discussion? I do!

    • Yes, sorry, that’s a mountain of distortions and outright BS. You wanna “research”, have at it. I seem to recall you being a jerk about some of that then and completely ignoring what I said, I don’t care to do it all over again, especially on Thanksgiving. Do you not have a Nightmare MAGA Uncle or somebody to fight with today? (Or is that you?)

      Is there some reason you can’t just disagree civilly with one of my takes without getting personal and twisting and distorting my words to make some kind of imaginary Internet points? If you can’t get along with somebody who’s never once launched any kind of attack on you (or anybody) on a freaking comments section, you’re…probably the problem. I like most other people, I tend to get along with, well, everybody, and I loathe vitriolic Internet p!ssing contests with guys hiding behind a keyboard, there’s just no point to them. That’s insecure people just venting spleen.

      I’m just here to talk soccer. Not sure why you’re here if you don’t even wanna talk civilly to me. I’ve been involved in the sport one way or another clear back to the Dark Ages of the ’90’s, and I’ve learned from some fairly interesting folks over the years. (One of them is playing in Qatar right now, in fact.) And I certainly don’t demand you agree with me all the time, we all see the game different ways…and this site would frankly be boring if we did, yeah?

  3. What in the name of skitzo is goin on here. USA fans praising Canada in a lost? which is worth zero points!! USMNT earn a point, and get complaints nonstop. Richie, Allistair, & Kamal are all MLS players. That’s 3. 2 more than the USA started v Wales. The same feeble people who complained about Zimmerman, Acosta & J Mo the other day, conveniently & by sudden coincidence seemed to have amnesia. The same people who don’t want a single player who plays in the MLS, to ever be part of the USMNT are now praising another countries team …with MLS players on it!! Not a single mention of the MLS, one way or another. As a life long futbol/soccer fan, it’s sad, that some aren’t intelligent enough to understand how contradictory this is. We don’t want to grow the game in our personal lives, nor do we want to make any sense when we post about it. We don’t want to learn about the sport, but have all the knowledge in the world about the sport. Don’t watch or follow leagues but throw up names of players who aren’t even playing and have no clue about who we are naming. Don’t want to have a real conversation to grow our own knowledge collectively, yet complain about stuff we claim to not care about?! Complaints are for those who expect something! Example- I complain about quozzel’s bad comparisons because he’s a coach in the real world. I expect more from him than lazy left field comparisons. This ‘22 USMNT isn’t like ‘02 WC squad, (tho’, they finished in 3rd in WCQ). Busio doesn’t play like Pirlo. Malik Tillman plays nothing like Pogba. I complain because I CARE to read his comments. I swear my whole life, US soccer fans think they’re smarter than other sports fans but I find so much evidence to the contrary.

    • You’re putting words in my mouth – which I hate – and you’re focusing WAAAAY too much on results and not process, which is the definition of “amateur takes.”

      Quibble #1: I have zero problems with MLS players. I actually rate Acosta and Zimmerman, for instance, and I wouldn’t have hated it if Vasquez had gotten a look. I’ve been a staunch defender of MLS and a big believer in MLS’s continued rise – I think it’s Championship level, which is not bad at all – and I definitely think it’s almost turned into the Dutch league when it comes to producing talent that it can then sell on to Europe, which has been HUUUUUGE for both the USA and Canada. (Pretty sure just about every player on Canada’s roster played in MLS at some point except maybe Atiba Hutchinson and Jonathan David.) The rise of MLS and MLS academy development – and finally breaking up this godawful pay-for-play system that is finally, thankfully, starting to go away in the USA has everything to do with the dramatic rise in our talent pool.

      Quibble #2: Herdman’s teams find a way to generate chances. Loads of them. They seriously get after their opponent and he actually finds a way to have his attacking players….attack. That’s all a coach can do, is put his guys in a position to win the game, they still then have to execute. But let’s look at an apples-to-apples comparison. The top scorers in the Turkish League are Enner Valencia of Ecuador (nine goals) – who got two goals against Qatar in the opener. Tied for sixth with five goals is Michy Batshuayi…who scored on his one look for Belgium against Canada. Not even on the list in 2021 (you have to go clear back to 2020 to see him in form, when he finished second with 19 goals) is Cyle Larin, who has just one goal in nine appearances this year for Club Brugge in (cough) Belgium…and yet Larin was all over the field for Canada last night, got at least 4-5 clean looks and was in position to score several times, especially one where he got robbed when Courtois did that Plastic Man thing he does and sort of jackrabbited and plucked that header out of the far corner maybe 3-4 keepers in the world could have gotten to.

      Why does this matter, you ask? Because the USA has the #2 scorer in the Turkish League, Haji Wright, who is behind only Valencia and four goals ahead of Batshuayi…and Wright not only got no chances whatsoever, he barely got a touch. We weren’t getting him the ball. But we’re still pleading talent poverty at striker.

      Oh, just for giggles, Josh Sargent is tied for tops in the Championship with nine goals, and he got one – repeat (1)! – half-chance, which he doinked off the crossbar. He wasn’t getting the ball either. In fact our entire team, for all their dominance, generated just six freaking shots the whole night against Wales. Our EG (expected goals) against Wales was just 1.05…whereas Wales’ was 1.28, so you can argue they had a slightly better chance than us of winning that game.

      Contrast that with Canada. They got 22 (lordy!) shots against Belgium last night, with an EG (expected goals) of 2.63 – versus 0.77 for Belgium – and it took a missed PK and another not given, plus Courtois standing on his head on one occasion PLUS Canada nervously shooting everywhere but at the net to save Belgium. You could see Canada hasn’t been to a World Cup since 1986 and was well-aware they had neither scored nor gotten a point…they just couldn’t quite believe they could actually punch with Belgium and it showed. (We saw the same thing with Canada in the last Gold Cup, when we snatched a similar 1-0 victory against them they definitely should have won. But that doesn’t last, either. Once they find the back of the net in Qatar, they’ll likely do it a lot.)

      Herdman puts his guys in a position to score goals and win games, he’s flexible and uses what he has as opposed to what he wishes he had, and his guys are getting the max out of their talent. All you can ask of a coach. I thought, tactically, he was way better than Martinez last night, and that surprised me a bit.

      Is that not exactly what you want out of a national team coach?

    • LLEEETTTSSS GGOOOOO!!!!!!…..It’s ok…”It’s Ok 2 Think”….. relax. You really do have valid points and I see the passion in every line of your post but I think the comments on here are coming more from a point of admiration / envy……not support.
      HOW can Canada, who were nowhere until Herdman, not only qualify first in CONCACAF, but then come to the World Cup and almost best the team ranked by FIFA as number 2 in the world (and referred to by sports announcers as the “Golden Generation”)……WITH MLS PLAYERS??? Its like they are replaying our fantasy before our very eyes….hahahaha. Why does it work for them and not us? John Herdman. Atiba Hutchinson captains Süper Lig club Beşiktaş AND IS 39 YEARS OLD, David Wayne Hoilett Jr. plays as a winger for EFL Championship club Reading AND IS 32 YEARS OLD, Richmond Laryea plays for Toronto FC, Kamal Anthony Miller plays for CF Montréal, Alistair William Johnston plays for also CF Montréal…….and yet WITH THESE PLAYERS go toe to toe with Belgium, even being the better side for the more part. Its hard not to admire John Herdman who:
      1) has been successful with the Canadian women’s national team
      2) is now successful with the Canadian men’s national team (being CONCACAF’s current best)
      3) Is working with a soccer federation budget that’s only a fraction of that of the USMNT but yet producing results
      4) is working with a smaller player pool than the US.
      There is a lot of contradicting going on here but at the end of the day that’s what makes it interesting (especially calling people out on it….lol).

    • we had a lead on wales through 82′, should have won, should have qualified first, and should be a dark horse at this tournament rather than a forever project (i mean, the “kids” are now moving into their 20s with a limited career window, how long of that do we throw away on this junk) or fanboy excuse machine. i feel like the coach’s poor tactics and desire to fight their basic nature result in a good team having weaker results and on our games being closer than they should be, where the game can turn on a PK against a second rate team like wales (who for all the happy talk is a “3 good player” team at their first world cup since 1958). worse, the berhalter fanboy cult is linked up to this MLS bias issue now. this needs to get back to tactics that work now — not are some cult project they think will work in 5 years or something — and rewarding players who play well rather than getting hung up on club form or this pro- or anti-MLS crap (zimmermann nearly got to do WCQ under arena 2017 and would be in play as at least a sub under any coach in charge).

  4. The one upset I was expecting to see in group stage was Canada over Belgium, and it nearly happened. Nobody that watched CONCACAF qualifying should be surprised at the strong performance shown today. They were the best team in CONCACAF this cycle by a comfortable margin.

    • i though concacaf results showed our region is second rate this time. 0W 2T 2L. this is subject to change, canada was playing their hard game, we have some to play, mexico may pick up a point or two, but CR is junk and we tied them in quali and advanced on goal difference because they have no offense.

  5. canada lost, right? you hire the coach who wins games not one who loses in an appealing way. says something about US fans their idea of an upgrade is herdman. i think he’d be better than berhalter but only so much. the general message i got from the first game is concacaf is a tier or two down from not just europe but also asia and south america. not sure how swapping out berhalter for another regional coach who lost his opener is the sort of catch-up to the elite or evolutionary change we want. get a winning UCL or world cup type coach, an actual big name, and i personally would take this down either the french road or back towards some sort of modernized defend and counter scheme. at a loss how our idea of chasing the elite is imitating the losers (holland and spain are perennial bridesmaid teams — with a single generational exception — who generate possession but not enough chances and goals) rather than imitating and hiring the winners. we doing substance or we doing sttyle? because an ageing belgium team beat canada. that’s not the answer to us beating the good teams next time.

  6. – Remember that US-Japan friendly? Japan is a quality team possessed with excellent tactics. They deserved the win over a plodding, methodical Germany.
    – Canada belongs here. Speed and athleticism up top make a big difference, and they are fun to watch.
    – Costa Rica just doesn’t belong here. Three and out. Spain’s attack is impressive.

    • I said after the Japan friendly that I thought they’d get out of Group and make some noise this WC. Certain (cough) other posters on here seemed fairly vehement that Japan was the same average fodder team they’d always been…I just didn’t see that out of them this time around. They looked incredibly organized, committed, technical, and surprisingly fast, and they just absolutely swarmed with that press of theirs. Everywhere you looked on their roster, I saw a good player, who was usually plying his trade in Germany or the UK in the Prem or B1.

      Japan’s really improved. I definitely think they’re ahead of us at the moment.

      • i actually like japan to make noise in the group. i think they play a style suited to tournament soccer. i also think this tournament is exposing the older teams and the more boring and lifeless slow passing 433 teams. i feel like this tournament is rewarding teams that can defend or who play uptempo soccer. as a former defender a lot of these slow perimeter passing teams don’t look very scary. germany would only look dangerous when they went after japan’s wingbacks and played the ball behind the offsides line.

      • i see it as a transitional world cup. i think brazil, france, they will beat this Japan team. but i think there are some tactically labored and old teams who will be shown the door first. japan to me plays smart and lively the way we used to before the brain transplant. if you keep the score down, work hard, and can finish your chances, you have a shot against anyone. we used to.

        one other thing i see us missing is dempsey type sniper finishing. it’s a game of goals and not scored for style points. it really helps to have finishers. asano’s roof finish was a heck of a shot. we can score a breakaway but how about just putting balls in corners or god forbid people who can hammer one upper 90. but then they left green and holmes off.

    • just going to point out plodding germany plays a lot like GB wants us to. like do they realize they can “switch” with passes and not slowly play side to side? i don’t get how this fashion is still in style. particular once the positionless version got dropped, way too predictable. the way i see to beat japan is spread them out, up the passing tempo, and skip the ball all the way cross field. you’d either get the whole backside open or you’d make them have to shift some and start to open up the compactness. either that or germany got a little going playing behind japan’s backline but they usually stuck to farting around in front of them.

      i mean i feel like you’re trying to talk up the USA but we looked a lot like this and the game was 1 goal worse. to me it suggests the snobs while claiming to be pointing us to the future have instead sent us into a rotting evolutionary cul de sac.

    • the unexamined flaw in emphatically saying CR doesn’t belong there, is the margin between us and them over 14 games was +5 goal difference and -2 worse on goals allowed. we made it because we had some, any offense, and they didn’t. giving up 7 in a night after only 8 over 14 WCQ games suggests concacaf didn’t prove much and we were only marginally better “than that.” before we get too smug.

  7. I’ve been impressed with Herdman for some time. While he has some excellent players in David and Davies, overall I think we have more and better talent. I keep wondering how good we could do under his leadership. USSF probably has the money to buy out his contgact with Canada and give him a hefty raise. It’s something they should consider after this WC.

    • meh, the idea i heard to go toe to toe with belgium doesn’t make a ton of tournament sense. that’s probably their tough game this round and standard issue tournament soccer is play that one tight and play for a tie or 1-0 your way. i give him credit for whipping canada into 1st in qualifying shape but that’s more like a league. in these smaller 4 team group tournaments his record (eg gold cups) is underwhelming.

  8. USMNT may just consider Herdman for 2026 if he wants to leave the Canada setup. I’m sure there will be offers for him from MLS as well.

  9. Holy crap Canada will wish they had that one back. They smacked the Waffles around something awful, somehow didn’t win the game despite outshooting them 22-9. (When did Belgium get nine shots again? Except for that one goal they scored, they had zero other clear-cut opportunities whereas the Canucks were squandering theirs left and right.)

    Whatever. Canada knows they can compete now, and Morocco and Croatia aren’t exactly pacy teams that showed any kind of firepower…I think Canada can and will advance and once they get into the knockouts they could go a ways.

    Is it Herdman, or is it the players? Regardless, I couldn’t help but be jealous of how smart he was with his tactics, how much collective belief and team spirit his group had, and how they just kept going at the Waffles until the final whistle. If we fail to get out of Group and need a replacement I might almost prefer him to Martinez, especially now that we just got an apples-to-apples comparison.

    That was durn impressive on Canada’s part, taking it to the #2 team in the world like that in their first World Cup match since 1986. A little steadier nerves and they might have blown them out, they were just that dominant.


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