Japan players celebrate after defeating Spain 2-1 after the World Cup group E soccer match between Japan and Spain, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

Japan Stuns Spain to Eliminate Germany and Advance to World Cup Knockout Stage

After jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute, Spain conceded two quick second-half goals to Japan en route to a 2-1 loss Thursday at Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar.

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Chaotic Group E

Japan clinched the top seed in Group E after finishing with six points, while Spain secured the No. 2 seed to advance to the Round of 16. Although Germany matched Spain’s four points following a 4-2 victory over Costa Rica, Spain won the tiebreaker with a +6 goal differential. It marks the second straight World Cup in which Germany — who won the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil — is eliminated after group play.

“It’s just all unbelievably bitter for us that the Japanese managed to win,” German forward Thomas Müller said after the match. “It was a realistic scenario, even if it ended up in a tie, . . . but the result is that things didn’t end up the way we wanted.”

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Japan Pulls Off Comeback Victory

Álavaro Morata gave Spain an early advantage after the 30-year-old forward scored on a header — his third goal in three World Cup matches — in the 11th minute.

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But Japan answered with a pair of goals in the opening six minutes of the second half. Japanese forward Ritsu Doan substituted in at halftime and evened the match during the 48th minute.

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Less than three minutes later, Japanese midfielder Ao Tanaka scored the game-winning goal after the ball nearly went out-of-bounds.

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Germany Beats Costa Rica As Both Squads Exit Qatar

Germany erased a 2-1 deficit and scored three unanswered goals in the second half to prevail against Costa Rica.

Kai Havertz came off the bench for Germany and tied the match in the 73rd minute.

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12 minutes later, the Chelsea midfielder scored the go-ahead goal.

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Just before extra time, forward Niclas Füllkrug netted an insurance goal, but the Germans could not control their own destiny.

Round of 16

Japan— ranked No. 24 in the FIFA Men’s World Ranking — will take on No. 12 Croatia in the Round of 16 Monday at 10 a.m. No. 7 Spain will get an extra day to rest as the 2010 World Cup champions prepare to face No. 22 Morocco Tuesday morning at 10.

About Griffin Foll

Hi, my name is Griffin Foll and I am currently a senior at UF studying sports media journalism with a concentration in political science. I contribute weekly web and radio content for WRUF ESPN Gainesville and help cover the World Cup/Champions League soccer beat. Be sure to check out some of my recent articles!

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