Japan beat Spain for top spot to send Germany home
On a night of simply spectacular Fifa World Cup action, Japan went against the odds to top Group E with a win over Spain while Germany were eliminated.
Before Russia in 2018, the Germans had not failed to qualify out of their group since the late 1930s — this year, it happened for the second consecutive time.
It was not a good day for Europe’s elite, with Belgium getting knocked out and Croatia finishing in second spot behind Morocco in Group F.
It was more of the same for the heavyweights in Group E, with Spain falling to second spot and the Germans being eliminated despite a big win over Costa Rica.
The permutations were looked at pre-match with all four teams in with a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages.
During the course of the concurrent encounters, all of those possible outcomes were lived out — with the order of the log changing as each of the nine goals were scored.
The end was an unfortunate one for the Germans, with the 2006 hosts and 2014 champions having back-to-back poor turnouts on the grandest stage.
Costa Rica were defeated in the process, but they would have felt hard done by as well, coming back from behind to take the lead on the 70th minute mark before a late flurry of goals saw it end 4-2 to Germany.
For Spain, it was the goals scored in their opener and the hard fought nature of their draw against Germany that got them through.
They will probably be grateful for the opportunity to stay in the tournament, albeit as group runners-up, with a 2-1 defeat to Japan making the Asian side worthy group winners.
Alvaro Morata put the Spaniards in front early on before Ritsu Doan made an impact off the bench as he did in the Germany game. Ao Tanaka got the winner, as Japan held on for yet another famous result.
Spain will take on Morocco while 2018 finalists Croatia will await Japan in the last 16.
Pictured above: Japan’s celebrations
Image source: @FifaWorldCup