The World Cup continues to throw up shock after shock, and Wednesday was no different.
After Croatia and Morocco’s snooze-fest, Germany and Japan treated us to a truly entertaining spectacle, though it seemed to be going all to plan for the 2014 winners early on.
An Ilkay Gundogan penalty had Hansi Flick’s side up and running for the tournament, and with stars like Joshua Kimmich, Thomas Muller and Antonio Rudiger in the side, they were expected to see out the result and claim their first points.
However, a second-half meltdown from Germany alongside some inspired substitutions from Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu turned the game on its head.
The World Cup’s throwing up some surprises eh?!
— Scott Saunders (@_scottsaunders) November 23, 2022
Japan. That is all. pic.twitter.com/oZQN8h4EMH
— 90min (@90min_Football) November 23, 2022
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) November 23, 2022
Japan in the second-half pic.twitter.com/a9sqVA4El5
— 433 (@433) November 23, 2022
— FotMob (@FotMob) November 23, 2022
Japan against Germany pic.twitter.com/4F1PRescDL
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) November 23, 2022
Wales drew US 1-1 in their first World Cup game in 64 years. 51st-ranked Saudi Arabia upset third-ranked Argentina. Now Japan pulled off a stunning comeback over Germany.
Huge storylines already and great fuel for Canada to be the next statement vs Belgium. #FIFAWorldCup
— Emily Wilson (@wilson_emt) November 23, 2022
Another powerhouse goes down in their first game as Japan come from behind to beat Germany 2-1.
Terrific second-half performance from Japan, with their substitutes proving pivotal.
— Graeme Bailey (@GraemeBailey) November 23, 2022
Substitute Ritsu Doan was on hand to finally beat Manuel Neuer, who had made a handful of saves previously to keep his side ahead.
Ritsu Doan has now equalled Wayne Rooney’s WC goals record
— CR7 Rap Rhymes (@cr7raprhymes) November 23, 2022
What a moment for Japan! Ritsu Dōan, who plays in Germany for Freiburg, grabs the equaliser.🇯🇵 pic.twitter.com/Bsey6XRANM
— Ben Jacobs (@JacobsBen) November 23, 2022
The dream turnaround for the Samurai Blue was completed just seven minutes after Doan’s 75th-minute effort as Takuma Asano – another replacement from the bench – collected Ko Itakura’s pass and fired past Neuer at his near post.
Takuma Asano’s game by numbers vs Germany:
33 minutes played
5 touches in opp. box
1 chance created
1 final third entry
Match winner. 🤩 pic.twitter.com/wTP5O01WOX
— Squawka (@Squawka) November 23, 2022
Just to say I always knew Takuma Asano was that good
— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) November 23, 2022
What a goal that was from Japan. An exquisite first touch from Asano who finished it off beautifully.
— DaveOCKOP (@DaveOCKOP) November 23, 2022
It isn’t the first shock of this World Cup. Argentina, having taken a 1-0 lead, were shocked by Saudi Arabia as a second-half comeback quickly saw Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari strike in quick succession to cancel out Lionel Messi’s penalty.
Japan’s triumph over Germany splits Group E wide open before Spain’s clash with Costa Rica, with the Germans again looking nervous in the group stage after their 2018 exit at the same stage.