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Asia on the march as Japan come from behind to stun Germany 2-1 – SABC News

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Late goals from Ritsu Doan and substitute Takuma Asano gave Japan an incredible 2-1 win over Germany at the World Cup on Wednesday in another emotional result for Asian football after Saudi Arabia’s shock win over Argentina.

The four-time German champions looked to be cruising to a routine victory through Ilkay Gendogan’s first-half penalty, but paid a fatal price for their wastefulness in front of goal.

The shock result was a repeat of their 2018 World Cup nightmare, when they, as defending champions, lost their match to Mexico and were condemned to an unheard of group stage exit after another defeat to South Korea.

Japan showed almost nothing in attack until a flurry of second-half substitutions injected energy into their first competitive match against Germany.

Doan equalized in the 75th minute before Asano showed great control to smash home the winner from a difficult angle – prompting an explosion of joy from the Japan bench and head-shaking from German fans used to seeing both players play in the Bundesliga.

“We wanted to start playing aggressively, we wanted to dominate the game,” said Japan coach Hajime Moriasu, whose second-half changes changed the entire feel of the game. “But Germany is very strong, so we had to defend hard and take chances.

“This is a big surprise. We saw the victory of Saudi Arabia over Argentina – the countries of Asia are coming to the world standard.”

It was a turnaround that looked highly unlikely as Japan struggled to get a foothold for much of the game amid the threat of FIFA sanctions if Germany captain Manuel Neuer dons the ‘OneLove’ armband.

In response to this act of protest being effectively banned, the German team covered their mouths in a “shut up” gesture for their team image.

EARLY DOMINATION

There was certainly a subdued atmosphere on the pitch until Germany’s early dominance was rewarded when Joshua Kimmich picked out David Raum in acres of space in the box and was clumsily brought down by goalkeeper Shuichi Gondo as he turned and Gendogan converted a 33rd-minute penalty.

Kai Havertz converted what he thought was a second in first-half stoppage time, but it, like Japan’s Daizen Maeda’s first effort, was ruled out for offside.

Initially, the pattern was largely unchanged in the second half, with Jamal Musiala shooting over after a through ball and Gendogan hitting the post when he should have scored.

Then came a thrilling spell as Gondo made amends, somehow making four successive saves to deny Jonas Hoffman and Serge Gnabry, keeping his side in the game.

Neuer, competing in his fourth World Cup, narrowly got a touch of the ball but then had to save from Hiroki Sakai. He again managed to block Takumi Minamino only for substitute Doan to smash the ball home with glee.

Japan pressed and Asano, inexplicably left free by Antonio Rüdiger, produced a fine touch to beat away Ko Itakura’s high free-kick. He then held off defender Nick Schlotterback before slotting the ball into the tightest of spaces.

Since then, Germany have launched an all-out attack but to no avail, and now face a potentially vital win in their next match against Spain.

“We played a good game for a long period of time, but the game is also marked by the chances you convert into goals,” said Germany striker Thomas Müller after his side had 76.8% possession. “It’s ridiculous that we’re here with a loss.”

Next time, Japan will meet with Costa Rica and for the second tournament in a row, they will dream of reaching the 1/8 finals – at least.

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