Japan get two late goals to upset Germany
DOHA, Qatar (AP):
Another World Cup day, another World Cup shock.
Substitutes Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano scored late goals yesterday as Japan came from behind to upset Germany 2-1.
Both Doan and Asano play for German top-division clubs.
"I believe it's a historic moment, a historic victory. If I think about the development of Japanese football thinking of players, for them this was a big surprise," said Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu, who had five Germany-based players in his starting line-up and three, including the scorers, on the bench.
"They're fighting in a very strong, tough, prestigious league. They've been building up their strength. In that context we believe that those divisions (Bundesliga and second division) have been contributing to the development of Japanese players," Moriyasu said. "I'm very grateful for that."
Ilkay Gundogan had given four-time champions Germany the lead with a first-half penalty. But Doan, who plays for Freiburg, pounced on a rebound to equalise in the 76th minute after Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer blocked a shot from Takumi Minamino.
Then Asano, who plays for Bochum, sprinted clear of Nico Schlotterbeck and beat Neuer from a narrow angle in the 83rd minute of the first competitive meeting between the two nations.
They played two friendlies before, with Germany winning 3-0 in 2004 before a 2-2 draw between the teams in 2006.
Germany outplayed Japan for much of yesterday's match with 24 attempts on goal compared to Japan's 11. Japan had just 24 per cent possession for the whole game.
"It's brutally disappointing, not only for the players but also the coaching team," said Germany coach Hansi Flick. "We deserved to go in front, it was more than deserved. Then you have to say that Japan gave us a lesson in efficiency."
The match was played a day after Argentina's 2-1 upset loss to Saudi Arabia.
Before their game, Germany's players covered their mouths during the team photo to protest against FIFA following the decision to stop plans to wear armbands that were seen as protesting discrimination in host nation Qatar.
Nancy Faeser, Germany's sports minister, attended the match at the Khalifa International Stadium and was sitting beside FIFA president Gianni Infantino while wearing the same "One Love" armband that FIFA had outlawed with threats of consequences.
It was only the third time Germany had lost their tournament-opening game after defeats against Algeria in 1982 and Mexico in 2018. In the other World Cup openers for Germany, they had won 13 matches and drawn four.
Despite giving away the penalty for a clumsy challenge on left back David Raum, Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda made a string of saves and was player of the game.
"We fought as a team," Gonda said. "We have to make sure we never stop."
Japan next play Costa Rica, while Germany face Spain on Sunday.
5 a.m: Switzerland v Cameroon
8 a.m: Uruguay vs South Korea
11 a.m: Portugal vs Ghana
2 p.m: Brazil vs Serbia
Spain 7 vs Costa Rica 0
Germany 1 vs Japan 2
Morocco 0 vs Croatia 0
Belgium 1 vs Canada 0