Germany knocked out of World Cup after extraordinary finale to Group E


Germany were knocked out of the 2022 World Cup on Thursday after a rather extraordinary Group E final, despite beating Costa Rica.

At different points in the two games, fans of Spain and Japan and Costa Rica and Germany each thought their countries might be on their way to the knockout stages.

Spain completely dominated in the first half and after Alvaro Morata’s first half goal, Japan stormed back to win 2-1 and top the group.

Japan’s two goals – from Ritsu Dōan and Ao Tanaka – came within three minutes early in the second half.

Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2 despite trailing at one point, but it wasn’t enough as Japan and Spain made it to the round of 16.

Germany coach Hansi Flick said the “disappointment is huge” for the German team.

“In the first half I was disappointed and very angry with my team and how we let the opponent come back,” Flick told Reuters.

– We wanted to score three or four goals in the first half, but then we made mistakes. If we had changed those opportunities, 16 of them.

“But the tournament wasn’t decided for us today. We didn’t have the power in this tournament and that’s why we got eliminated.

The end of Group E means Japan face Croatia in the next round, while Spain face Morocco.

The evening was important for another reason – Stéphanie Frappart became the first woman to referee a men’s World Cup match.

Along with Brazil’s Neuza Back and Mexico’s Karen Diaz, the French referee was part of the trio of female referees overseeing the match between Germany and Costa Rica.

Germany's players will leave the field after failing to reach the last 16 of the 2022 World Cup.

Nine goals, controversial VAR decisions and the four-time World Cup winner being knocked out of the competition at the group stage just like Germany were in Russia 2018 – these two Group E games will live long in the memory.

Just hours after one of Europe’s heavyweights, Belgium, had been relegated, Spain and Germany faced the challenge of Japan and Costa Rica, two teams that most football pundits had written off as having little chance of making the last 16 ahead of the World Cup. The cup started.

Despite these predictions, this was a night that started with the possibility that all four teams could advance to the next stage.

In the first quarter of an hour of both games, both European teams looked to be progressing from the group.

At the Al Bayt Stadium, Serge Gnabry headed home in the 10th minute to give Germany a vital lead as they battled to revive their hopes of qualification after a poor start to their campaign when they surprisingly lost to Japan.

At the Khalifa International Stadium, Morata headed home a superb cross from César Azpilicueta on the right to give Spain the lead.

In doing so, Morata became the second player to score in his first three World Cup appearances for Spain since Telmo Zarra in 1950, according to Opta.

After the goal, with both European teams sitting in the qualification spots, Spain and Germany dominated the match for the remainder of the first half, with Spain holding 78% possession and Germany 65% ​​as they limited the opposition’s openings.

But the supremacy of the European teams was soon questioned – minutes into the second half in both games, the situation in the group had completely changed.

As he did in the famous win over Germany, Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu used his substitutes masterfully, bringing on Dōan and his left-footed strike to lift Japan up.

Moments later, Tanaka gave Samurai Blue a shock cord, endangering the group.

However, Tanaka’s goal did not come without controversy. A VAR review ruled the ball had not gone out of play before Tanaka tapped across the goal.

Wataru Endo celebrates with his teammates after Japan qualified for the World Cup playoffs.

Just when things looked like they couldn’t get any wilder – and completely against the run of play – Costa Rica leveled the scores against Germany when Yeltsin Tejeda smashed the ball home after Manuel Neuer failed to keep out Kendall Waston’s powerful effort.

But the mental math for coaches, players and fans was just beginning.

Costa Rica took a stunning lead when Juan Pablo Vargas poked home after a frantic goalmouth scramble to leave Germany trailing.

With just over 20 minutes left in the two games, Spain and Germany – both recent World Cup winners – were in danger of going home.

Costa Rica’s hopes were quickly dashed as substitute Kai Havertz’s quick-fire double and Niclas Füllkrug’s late goal ensured that Germany – after a roller-coaster night – would get the three points.

However, Spain’s 7-0 win over Costa Rica in their first group match – thereby ensuring a healthy goal difference – was now a lifeline for Luis Enrique’s side to qualify from the group and condemned Germany to finish third.

Germany desperately needed a goal from Spain to climb back into the qualifying places. But Spain couldn’t break down Japan’s resolute defense and never troubled Shūichi Gonda on goal despite seven minutes of added time.

After going through on goal difference, Spain coach Enrique was critical of his team’s performance.

“I am not happy at all. Yes, we have survived, I would have liked to be on top to win this game. This was impossible because Japan scored two goals in five minutes … we were out, we were dismantled,” Enrique said at a press conference, according to Reuters.


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