Japan stunned World Cup heavyweights Germany 2-1 on Wednesday thanks to late goals by Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano after the four-times champions had looked to be cruising to victory via an Ilkay Guendogan penalty.
The shock result was a repeat of their 2018 World Cup nightmare when, as defending champions, they lost their opener to Mexico and, after another defeat by South Korea, were condemned to an unheard of group-stage exit.
Germany looked in control of the Group E clash but, with each missed chance, left the door open for Japan, who showed almost nothing in attack until a series of substitutions injected some energy in the second half.
“I believe it’s a historic moment, a historic victory. If I think about the development of Japanese football, thinking of players, for them this was a big surprise,” said Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu, who had five Germany-based players in his starting line-up and three, including the scorers, on the bench.
“They’re fighting in a very strong, tough, prestigious league. They’ve been building up their strength. In that context we believe that those divisions [Bundesliga and second division] have been contributing to the development of Japanese players,” Moriyasu said. “I’m very grateful for that.”
Player ratings for the match can be seen in the picture gallery above. To view the next image, click on the arrows or swipe if on a mobile device.