Japan stun Spain to reach last 16 of World Cup and eliminate Germany

Japan's Ritsu Doan celebrates his equaliser in their stunning 2-1 win over Spain in Group E. Picture: STUFF SPORTS.

Same stadium. Same result. Similar shocking victory for Japan at the World Cup.

After beating Germany 2-1 in their opener, Japan found their way into the round of 16 of the World Cup by defeating Spain by the same score in their last group game on Thursday (Friday NZT).

Spain also advanced despite the loss.
Japan scored twice early in the second half to come from behind and defeat another European powerhouse and make it to the knockout stage for the second straight time.

It was the first time Japan have advanced past the group stage in back-to-back tournaments.

Ao Tanaka scored the winning goal from close range early in the second half.

It took about two minutes for video review officials to confirm the ball hadn’t gone out of bounds before the goal that gave Japan the win at Khalifa International Stadium, which is where Japan had shocked Germany in its opener.

Japan finished at the top of Group E to set up a last-16 matchup against Croatia. Spain finished second and will take on Morocco.

Spain and Germany – who beat Costa Rica 4-2 – both had three points in the group. But Spain had a superior goal difference from their first group match so Germany was eliminated.

The group standings bounced back and forth during both matches. Costa Rica were beating Germany at one point. If that result had stood, Costa Rica would have eliminated Spain.

Álvaro Morata scored first for Spain in the 11th minute and Spain were in control until Japan rallied after halftime. Ritsu Doan equalised in the 48th minute with a left-footed shot from outside the box, and Tanaka added the second three minutes later.

Morata became the first player to score in the first three Spain matches at the World Cup since Telmo Zarra in 1950.

Spain had opened with a 7-0 rout of Costa Rica before conceding late in a 1-1 draw against Germany.

Japan were eliminated by Belgium in the last 16 in Russia. The Samuari Blue have never gone past the round of 16 at World Cups.

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