AL KHOR, QATAR — Goals from substitutes Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano in the last 15 minutes gave Japan a stunning 2-1 upset over four-time champions Germany in their World Cup Group E opener on Wednesday.
The Germans had dominated the contest at the Khalifa International Stadium and taken the lead with a 33rd minute penalty from Ilkay Guendogan after Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda had fouled wing back David Raum.
The second goal never came, however, and Japan’s raids into the German half became more and more frequent, culminating in Doan’s equalizer and a brilliant finish from Asano 8 minutes later.
The defeat was the third in a row in the opening match of a major championship for Germany after a loss to Mexico at the 2018 World Cup, when they bowed out in the first round as champions, and to France at Euro 2020.
Spain 7, Costa Rica 0
Spain thrashed Costa Rica 7-0 , their biggest ever winning margin at a World Cup, helped by two goals by Ferran Torres and strikes by five other players to send a resounding message to the rest of the teams in Qatar.
Spain was mindful of the shock defeats suffered by Argentina and Group E rivals Germany against lower opposition in their opening matches and they tormented Costa Rica from the start, going up 3-0 after little more than 30 minutes.
Dani Olmo got the goals flowing in the 11th minute when he exchanged passes with Gavi and chipped Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas. Ten minutes later, Marco Asensio timed a run into the box perfectly to connect powerfully with a Jordi Alba cross.
Torres stroked home his penalty in the 31st minute and the Barcelona winger claimed his second in the 54th when he took advantage of hesitant defending. Gavi, the youngest player to represent Spain at a World Cup, struck with a perfectly hit volley in the 74th minute before substitutes Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata rounded off a the one-sided encounter.
Croatia 0, Morocco 0
Croatia, runners-up at the last World Cup, was held to a 0-0 draw by Morocco at the Al Bayt Stadium on Wednesday in their opening Group F match.
The Croats, beaten by France in the 2018 final in Moscow, had the better of the chances, with Dejan Lovren’s shot cleared off the line and Nikola Vlasic’s close shot saved by the legs of Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.
Morocco striker Youssef En-Nesryi might have given the north Africans an early lead but was unable to get a decent touch onto Hakim Ziyech’s dangerous cross. In the second half Achraf Hakimi’s powerful free kick was punched away by Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic.
Belgium 1, Canada 0
Despite inspired play, especially in the first half, Canada just missed out on a major upset over Belgium with a loss in their Group F opener.
Michy Batshuayi scored for Belgium just before halftime even as Canada had a strong first half.
A missed opportunity came for Canada in the 10th minute when Alphonso Davies’ left-footed shot from the penalty spot was stopped by Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. It kept Canada scoreless in the World Cup. The Canadians are making their second World Cup appearance and went 0-3 in the 1986 World Cup at Mexico.
Courtios made three saves, while Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan had two.
Belgium leads Group F outright with three points after Croatia and Morocco tied in their opener.
Canada next plays Croatia on Sunday, while Belgium faces Morocco.
Source: Voice of America