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Japan come from behind to stun former champions Germany

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Takuma Asano scaled
  • Ilkay Gundogan had given Germany the lead
  • Two substitutes stepped up
  • This is the second time they have lost the opening match since 1978

Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano both stepped off the bench to score second half goals as Japan came from behind to stun four-time champions Germany in their opening Group E match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup at the Khalifa International Stadium on Wednesday.

Ilkay Gundogan had scored the opener for the Germans from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute before Doan equalized barely five minutes after coming on and Asano scoring the winner seven minutes to time.

The Germans had the best share of chances and should have only themselves to blame for failing to capitalize. The Japanese benefited from a tactical genius decision in the final 20 minutes of the game, the coach switching to three in the back and adding numbers upfront.

Germany dominated large spells of the game especially in the opening half, but it was the Japanese who had the first effort at goal. Daizen Maeda had put the ball into the net but his goal was ruled out for offside.

Gundogan then had a chance with a curling shot from distance but it didn’t gather enough pace and power, rolling straight into the keeper’s arms.

Another Gundo effort blocked

The Manchester City midfielder had another effort at goal blocked as he latched onto a rebound inside the box.

However, they finally got into the lead in the 31st minute when Gundogan slotted home a penalty after David Raum was brought down inside the box.

In the fourth minute of added time, they thought they had gone 2-0 up when Havertz slapped the ball home from close range from a Serge Gnabry cross, but it was ruled out for offside by VAR.

In the second half, Germany continued their dominance and they had a chance six minutes after the restart when Jamal Musiala wriggled his way into the box, but his shot went over the bar. The Bayern Munich teenager then set up Gundogan in the 59th minute, but his low shot came off the upright.

The Japanese keeper did his bit to keep his side in the game with a whooping four back to back saves. He first did well to keep away a Leon Goretzka shot. Gnabry latched onto the rebound and his shot was saved once again.

Keeper makes more saves

The ball was recycled with a cross coming in and finding Gnabry at the backpost, his header kept out by the keeper again before he bounced back to keep away the rebound.

Japan made changes to go three at the back and add numbers in midfield and it began to pay off. In the 73rd minute, Manuel Neuer made a brilliant save to deny Junya Ito from close range.

Two minutes later though, Neuer was breached. Doan tapped in to an empty net after the Germany keeper had made a save with a shot from the right.

Nine minutes later, the winner came. Asano beautifully controlled a long ball dipped behind the defense before storming into the box and sending a scorching shot into the roof of Neuer’s net.

Germany poured everything to try get an equalizer, but Japan defended with heart to see out a famous win over the Germans.

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