It was probably one of the craziest days of football at FIFA World Cups' group stages. Group E finally turned out to be the "group of death", with no clarity over which team is going to the last 16 till the very last moment.
The results saw four-time champion Germany getting knocked out, Japan becoming the unlikely group toppers, and Spain also qualifying to the next round despite losing their last group game.
The results: After beating Germany in its opening game, Japan, despite having just over 17 per cent possession of the ball, defeated Spain 2-1 to top the group on Friday (December 2). Japan were trailing 0-1 till half-time, but they made a stunning comeback with second-half goals from Ritsu Doan and Ao Tanaka.
#CRC & #GER gave us a six-goal thriller in their Group E finale! 🔥— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) December 1, 2022
Watch all the goals NOW on FIFA+#FIFAWorldCup | #Qatar2022
Rollercoaster night: Even though Spain finally made it to the next round, for a few minutes they were poised to head out when Costa Rica were leading 2-1 against Germany. But then the 2014 champions went on to score three more goals, doing the Spanish side a big favour.
What a night! #FIFAWorldCup | #Qatar2022— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) December 1, 2022
But Germany scoring goals against Costa Rica was not enough for them to reach the next round. They needed Spain to score goals against Japan. But that never happened after Japan took a 2-1 lead in the second half.
Japan ecstatic: This is one of the greatest moments in Japan's football history. Not only did they top the group and reach the last 16, they also topped their group by beating the European football powerhouses Germany and Spain.
The moment Japan advanced to the Round of 16 🇯🇵#FIFAWorldCup | #Qatar2022— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) December 1, 2022
"For Asia and for Japan, our victories over Spain and Germany, two of the top teams in the world, is something that gives us great confidence and we are very pleased," Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu said.
Heartbreak for Germany: Germany won the World Cup in 2014 by beating Argentina in the final. But since then, they have been knocked out after the group stages for the last two World Cups. For a team like of stature, with four titles and having played most World Cup finals, it is just unacceptable.
Something has to change, Germany coach Hansi Flick said after their team's shock exit from Qatar World Cup. "I believe for the future of German football we need to do things differently in training," he said.