A day after Argentina were beaten by Saudi Arabia, another of the pre-tournament favourites have fallen in their first group game. Japan came back from a goal down to defeat Germany 2-1.
Germany were knocked out at the group stage in the last World Cup, in Russia in 2018, and will now be anxious to avoid another disappointment on the same scale. Their next game, against Spain on Sunday, could be huge.
The Japanese were good value for their win and threatened early on, with Celtic’s Daizen Maeda finding the net only to be correctly flagged for offside. The 25-year-old forward later sent a header narrowly wide.
Japan’s speed on the break and ability to press tenaciously when they chose to was a constant threat to Die Mannschaft. However, the Germans did dominate the ball with a whopping 74 percent possession and created plenty of chances.
They led 1-0 at half time, too, thanks to an Ilkay Gundogan penalty. A combination of an inability to be ruthless and good goalkeeping from Shuichi Gonda kept the game alive, however, and Japan eventually took their chances.
After missing several good chances, Japan finally found an equaliser when Ritsu Doan buried confidently when Manuel Neuer parried a Takumi Minamino cross into his path.
Less than ten minutes later, in the 82nd minute, Japan scored again. The German …