Underdogs Japan stun Germany to 2-1
• Japan beat Germany 2-1 in Group E to produce another huge World Cup upset
• Germany had opened the scoringwith Ilkay Gundogan slotting home a penalty
• However, Japan hit back through super subs Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano
The drummer buried within the small knot of Japanese supporters behind the goal where the game was won was still thrumming out his beat long after the final whistle and it was entirely appropriate. He had not stopped all afternoon and neither had the team he had travelled so far to see.
This was a game won, an upset caused, not by superior skill or an elevated sense of football intelligence. It was won by courage and persistence and by an impeccable sense of sporting timing.
Having been second best to Germany for so long on this incredible occasion, Japan had remained in the game on the back of some stout defending, some inspired goalkeeping and, it must be said, some errant German finishing.
But as time passed and the game entered its final fifteen minutes, Japan sensed a waning of German industry. They sensed the four time winners easing off the throttle, either deliberately or otherwise. And when they struck twice in eight minutes towards the end, it was with a ruthlessness that surprised Hansi Flick and his players just as much as it did everybody in this stadium.
The two scorers were known to this German team, too. Both on as substitutes, Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano both play their football in the German Bundesliga. Suffice to say it will be a while before anybody in Germany forgets their names.
This was an upset almost on the same scale as the one Saudi Arabia had inflicted on Lionel Messi and Argentina the day before. Just like that one, this one did not announce itself as a possibility for quite some time.
Germany were the better team in the first half by a distance and, just like Argentina, they took the lead through a penalty. Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda pulled down German left-back David Raum clumsily just after the half hour and Ilkay Gundogan slid in the penalty.
GERMANY: (4-2-3-1) Neuer 7; Sule 7, Rudiger 6.5, Schlotterbeck 5.5, Raum 6.5; Kimmich 7, Gundogan 7.5 (Goretzka 67mins 6) ; Gnabry 7 (Moukoko 90), Muller 6 (Hofmann 67mins 6), Musiala 7 ( Goetze 78mins 6); Havertz 6 (Fullkrug 78mins 6).
GOALS: Gundogan (pen) 31
HANSI FLICK: 5
JAPAN: (4-2-3-1) Gonda 8; H Sakai 6 (Minamino 74mins 6), Itakura 7, Yoshida 7, Nagatomo 6 (Mitoma 57mins 6.5); Tanaka 6 (Doan 71mins 7), Endo 6; Ito 6, Kamada 7, Kubo 6 (Tomiyasu 45mins 6); Maeda 6 (Asano 57mins 7.5)
GOALS: Doan 75, Asano 83
HAJIME MORIYASU: 8
REFEREE: Ivan Arcides Barton Cisneros (Salvador) 6
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