It was a dramatic and eventful final group match in group F at the FIFA World Cup on Thursday evening.
The group has Germany, Spain, Costa Rica, and Japan, and while many football enthusiasts would have expected the two European giants and former World Cup winners, Germany and Spain, to go through to the round of sixteen.
That prediction was never certain when both games kicked off as Japan faced Spain. The 2010 World Cup winners led thanks to an 11th-minute goal from Alvaro Morata.
Spain went into the break with a one-goal advantage, albeit the game changed quickly as the Japanese left nothing in the hands of the Costa Ricans to do them a favour against Germany.
Two quickfire goals in 6 second-half minutes ensured a terrific comeback, although in controversial circumstances. After Ritsu Doan scored to make it 1-1 in the 48th minute, Ao Tanaka bundled home a cross from a ball that the VAR checked to ascertain if it was out of play.
However, the goal stood, and Japan won the game, putting Spain in danger of crashing out, especially if Costa Rica won.
Meanwhile, that was happening in the 70th minute as Costa Rica was 2-1 ahead against Germany after Manuel Neuer’s own goal.
Germany led from the first half with Serge Gnabry’s 10th-minute goal. Costa Rica scored twice in 12 minutes to lead 2-1
The Germans managed to get three more goals in the game’s final minutes through a Kai Havertz brace and Niclas Fullkruh; Japan had already done the damage against Spain.
The final results saw Japan top the group with six points, and Spain finished in second with four points, although with more superior goal difference compared to Germany and Costa Rica, who finished bottom of their group.
In the round of 16, Spain will face Morocco, while Japan will face Croatia.
Daniel Ademiju Idowu