WC 2022 – Germany 1 Japan 2 LIVE RESULTS: Japan complete INCREDIBLE comeback to beat Germany
Inside the ground – full-time analysis
Sun reporter Tom Barclay gives us his take on the entertaining win for Japan:
IT was the Mexicans who waved them goodbye four years ago.
And as a Mexican surge erupted here at Doha’s Khalifa Stadium, Germany could well be on course for an early return home thanks to Japan’s super subs.
Hansi Flick’s side looked to be on a roll when Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty put them in the lead just after the half-hour mark.
But their Asian opponents hit back with two substitute goals in the space of eight second-half minutes, first through Ritsu Doan and then a stunner from Takuma Asano.
Asano’s effort will go down in World Cup history as he brilliantly controlled a long ball, sped into the area and beat Manuel Neuer at his near post with a thunderous finish.
That leaves Germany in familiar territory, having crashed out in the group stage four years ago in Russia as reigning champions after losing their opening match against Mexico.
Getting out of here could be very difficult as 2010 champions Spain are also in their group, along with Costa Rica.
Midfielder Joshua Kimmich had on Tuesday spoken of the team’s “great motivation” to rectify this time and the importance of winning the first game.
Despite starting so well, they are now in an equally dangerous position and face a massive uphill battle to get out of the group.
Germany’s players protested against Fifa ahead of the match, furious at the pressure world football’s governing body had placed on them not to wear a One Love rainbow armband via threats of sporting sanctions.
It included warming up in training kits with rainbows on their sleeves, having rainbows etched on their boots and covering their mouths for the team photo to indicate how their planned support of the LGBTQ community had been silenced.
German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser also wore the One Love bracelet as she sat next to Fifa President Gianni Infantino up in the stands.
It was truly one-way traffic in the first half, which made the turnaround all the more remarkable. Japan completed just 62 passes, while troubled German goalkeeper Neuer had 35.
That said, it was actually the Asian side who had the ball in the net first when striker Daizen Maeda emphatically finished off a quick counter-attack only to be ruled offside.
Kimmich and Gundogan fired warning shots from distance before Salvadoran referee Ivan Barton, at 31, the tournament’s third-youngest whistler, awarded a penalty to Shuichi Gonda, two years his senior, for tripping David Raum and then falling on him for a good goal.
That allowed Manchester City star Gundogan to score his 17th goal for his country.
Kai Havertz thought he had doubled the lead just before half-time – and minutes after the Mexican wave around the Khalifa Stadium – but he too had strayed offside.
England were dealt a blow last year when former Young Lion Jamal Musiala switched allegiance to play for Germany, the country of his birth.
The prodigy, who attended the same private school in Croydon as Callum Hudson-Odoi and Danny Cipriani, went on a stunning mad run at the start of the second half, beating three players but firing over the bar.
On the hour Musiala crossed to Gundogan who hit the bottom of the post with his shot.
Gonda made up for his penalty miss by making FOUR saves in a matter of seconds, three from Serge Gnabry and another from substitute Jonas Hofmann.
Japan’s fans turned up the noise in a bid to inspire their team and they would have leveled earlier had it not been for Manuel Neuer’s brilliant stop to deny Junya Ito, before Hiroki Sakai blazed over.
In the end, the equalizer came when ex-Liverpool man Takumi Minamino, who had just come on as a sub, saw his cross palmed out by Neuer, only for Doan to find the net.
Eight minutes later, it got even better for Japan thanks to Asano’s moment of genius.
He masterfully controlled a routine long ball from defender Ko Itakura, managing to take it past Nico Schlotterbeck and race on goal before burying it past Neuer at his near post.
It was a wonder goal worthy of winning any game – and one that has already put four-time champions Germany in deep trouble.