Japan came back from behind to beat Germany 2-1 as Hansi Flick’s side suffer a second successive World Cup opening defeat.

Ilkay Gundogan opened the scoring from the spot for Germany after 30 minutes but substitutes Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano scored second-half goals to earn Japan a memorable victory at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Japan had the ball in the net after eight minutes, but it was ruled out for offside. Ao Tanaka dispossessed Ilkay Gundogan on the halfway line and offloaded the ball to a rapid Junya Ito down Japan’s right-hand side, who drove forward and played a pinpoint low cross toward Daizen Maeda at the back post, but the striker had drifted two or three yards offside when he slotted the ball beyond Manuel Neuer.

Germany started slowly but gradually grew into the game, and made their best move when Serge Gnabry found Gundogan just outside Japan’s penalty area, but instead of looking for David Raum who had created acres of space down Germany’s left flank, took the shot off himself which was comfortably retrieved by Shuichi Gonda.

One minute later Germany were awarded a penalty when Raum was rashly brought down by Gonda, as the German full-back turned away from goal to recycle the ball for a second wave of attack. Gundogan stepped up to score his first World Cup goal as he sent Gonda the wrong way to give Germany the lead after 33 minutes.

Kai Havertz thought he had doubled Germany’s lead when he tapped in a close-range effort, but similarly to Maeda in the first half, had drifted a few yards offside and the goal was ruled out after a quick VAR check.

Germany came out of the blocks much sharper in the second half and almost grabbed a second when Jamal Musiala showed a piece of excellence. The teenager picked up the ball on the left side of Japan’s penalty area and weaved his way into the centre of the box before making room for a shot, but he couldn’t find the target as he watched his effort fly over the bar.

Germany’s goalscorer came close to finding a second on the hour mark when his slotted shot from the edge of the box hit the foot on the post.

Japan made a string of changes in the second half and ultimately turned the game on its head. Freiburg’s Doan fired the ball into an empty net to equalise with 15 minutes on the clock after Manuel Neuer had denied a Takumi Minamino effort, but could only push the ball as far out as a lively Doan.

As Germany pushed for a winner they switched off at the back when Japan defender Ko Itakura found Asano with a route one ball over the top. Asano took the ball down with elegance before driving toward the German goal before smashing the ball into the roof of the net from a tight angle to earn all three points.

The loss for Germany is the second opening defeat they’ve suffered at the World Cup, and they face Spain next as they look to get their campaign back on track.


The Qatar World Cup continues to produce shock results. Lionel Messi’s Argentina were caught out by Saudi Arabia on Tuesday morning, before Japan turned up to stun Germany a day later. Germany were knocked out of the group stages at the World Cup four years ago in Russia and could be facing the same fate after another opening defeat in Qatar.

Flick’s side face a tough test against Spain in four days’ time – who are in action against Costa Rica later on Wednesday – before Germany take on the latter in their final group game. At that point, though, unless they beat Spain, it could be out of their hands.


Despite being on the losing side, Gundogan had a great game and was hauled off to conserve energy before Germany’s second half downfall. He scored his first World Cup goal from the spot – his 17th for Germany in all competitions – and had a hand in some of Germany’s best football as they searched for a second.

He came closest to doubling Germany’s lead when he was denied by the woodwork before he was substituted, presumably to be rested for their next game against Spain, a decision Flick might live to regret.


GERMANY: Neuer 6, Sule 6, Rudiger 6, Schlotterbeck 7, Raum 7, Kimmich 7, Gundogan 8, Gnabry 7, Muller 7, Musiala 6, Havertz 6

Subs: Goretzka 6, Gotze 6, Fullkrug 6, Hofmann 6, Moukoko N/A

JAPAN: Gonda 8, Nagatomo 7, Itakura 8, Yoshida 7, Sakai 7, Tanaka 7, Endo 8, Kubo 6, Kamada 7, J.Ito 7, Maeda 6

Subs: Tomiyasu 6, H.Ito, Mitoma 7, Doan 7, Minamino 6, Asano 7


8’ – JAPAN HAVE THE BALL IN THE NET! But the assistant referee has his flag up for offside! Ao Tanaka dispossesses Ilkay Gundogan in the middle of the pitch and offloads the ball to a rapid Junya Ito, who drives forward and plays a delightful low cross towards Maeda at the back post, but he’s made his run too early and is two or three yards offside.

29’ – PENALTY GERMANY! Gonda brings down Raum, and after hesitating, the referee points to the spot!

33’ – GOAL! GERMANY 1-0 JAPAN (GUNDOGAN) – Germany lead! Gundogan slots his penalty away as he sends Gonda the wrong way!

45’+4 – GOAL! GERMANY 2-0 JAPAN (HAVERTZ) – Havertz doubles Germany’s lead from close-range, but he looks offside. VAR will check it.

45’+5 – GOAL DISALLOWED! As expected, Havertz is miles offside and VAR have ruled it out.

75’ – GOAL! GERMANY 1-1 JAPAN (DOAN) – The Freiberg man equalises for Japan! Neuer pulls off another fabulous save to deny Takumi Minamino from a tight angle, who was brought on as a sub one minute earlier, but can only push the ball into the path of fellow substitute Ritsu Doan, who can make no mistake from close range and fires the ball into an empty net to level the scores.

83’ – GOAL! GERMANY 1-2 JAPAN (ASANO) – Wow! Asano scores from the tightest of angles to put Japan ahead! It all comes from one ball over the top from centre-back Ko Itakura. Asano brings the ball down superbly before driving toward the goal and beating Neuer at the near post. Germany are on their way to an opening day defeat for a second successive World Cup!


Why All 11 Germany Players Covered Their Mouths During World Cup Team Photo

The subject of LGBTQ+ rights is a huge topic at this World Cup as homosexuality is illegal in host national Qatar.

But the German Football Association insisted that its motives for wanting to support the OneLove campaign had not been “political”.

A statement issued during Wednesday’s game read:

“We wanted to use our captain’s armband to take a stand for values that we hold in the Germany national team: diversity and mutual respect. Together with other nations, we wanted our voice to be heard.”

“It wasn’t about making a political statement – human rights are non-negotiable. That should be taken for granted, but it still isn’t the case. That’s why this message is so important to us. Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position.”

Sources: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

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