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How Japan’s win over Spain knocked Germany out of the World Cup

Spain only needed a win or a draw to secure a place in the round of 16. Even a loss, with a Germany win over Costa Rica, would have done.

He started by mesmerizing both Japan and the crowd with his ball control. Openings were few as Japan fell back, but the game’s first goal came in the 12th minute when Spanish striker Álvaro Morata squeezed through slow-reacting defenders to edge past goalkeeper Shuishi Gonda.

On the other side of town, Germany had also scored early to take a 1-0 lead. Just like that, the football world was back on the axis, with Germany and Spain ready to enter the knockout round of the tournament. Without returns, Japan and Costa Rica would be eliminated.

Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu made half-time adjustments and replaced Kaoru Mitoma and Ritsu Doan, two bursts of energy who changed the game with their speed and pressure. Suddenly it was Spain hot on their heels, and minutes into the second half Doan sent a heavy left foot past Unai Simón to level the score.

A flash later, in the 51st minute and as Japan swarmed, a ball slipped through the mouth of the Spanish goal to the baseline to Simón’s right. Much to his team’s relief, he appeared to slip out of play. But a sliding Mitoma saved him anyway, sending him past Simón in the general direction of Ao Tanaka, who sent him into the goal.

Spain thought the ball had gone over the baseline, and initial replays seemed to agree. But, prompted to reconsider by the video assistant referee watching the action, the on-court referee took a second look and let the score stand.

Suddenly, Japan was leading, 2-1. And in the north, a few minutes later, Costa Rica scored to level Germany, then scored again to take the lead.

nytimes Gt

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