Japan stunned Spain with a 2-1 comeback victory that propelled the Samurai Blue to the top of Group E and eliminated Germany from the World Cup.
Alvaro Morata scored the opening goal in a dominant first half, but a quickfire double after the break from Ritsu Doan and Ao Tanaka turned the game on its head. Sergio Busquets thundered over the bar early on before almost giving away a goal at the other end straight after. A sloppy touch from the midfielder put Japan in on goal but Junya Ito’s shot flew into the side netting.
11 minutes into the game, Morata gave Spain the lead by heading in a Cesar Azpilicueta cross.La Roja kept Japan from regaining control of the game by simply maintaining possession. According to the stats, they were at nearly 80% after 30 minutes and 83% at the end of the lopsided first 45 minutes.
However, Japan unexpectedly tied the game three minutes into the second half with a powerful strike from substitute Doan that was too much for Unai Simon to handle.
It was 2-1 almost immediately after that. Tanaka scored with a tap-in attempt that was initially disallowed because it appeared that the ball had left play during the buildup, but VAR reversed the ruling and upheld the goal. Spain fought valiantly for an equalizer and might have had one later when Dani Olmo found space in the box, but Shuichi Gonda easily stopped his feeble effort.
Spain ultimately failed to put much of a strain on the Japan goalie and was forced to accept second place in the group.