Japan stuns wasteful Germany in dramatic World Cup comeback | Football news

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Japan stunned Germany 2-1 in their World Cup opener on Wednesday, punishing the four-time champions for not taking their chances after dominating the first half. The German team covered their mouths for the pre-match team photo in a strong protest against FIFA’s decision to ban rainbow-themed armbands. Hansi Flick’s team came to Qatar under immense pressure to avoid the disaster of 2018 when they failed to emerge from the group stage in Russia as holders. They took the lead through a first-half penalty from Ilkay Gundogan and should have been out of sight after creating numerous chances.

But Japan held on and equalized in the 75th minute through substitute Ritsu Doan.

Takuma Asano then completed a remarkable turnaround eight minutes later, hitting the ball home to drive the boisterous Japanese fans wild.

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Germany’s World Cup future is now on the line, with Group E games against Spain and Costa Rica remaining.

Japan is looking for a place in the knockout round after a dramatic comeback that seemed hardly possible at the end of the first half.

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The Blue Samurai got off to a positive start, with Daizen Maeda putting the ball into the net in the eighth minute, after which the linesman flagged for offside.

German opportunities
But it was a false dawn for Japan as Antonio Rudiger headed past the post from a corner, before Joshua Kimmich put goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda to the test, with Gundogan blasting the rebound over the crossbar.

Gundogan pounded the Japanese target with shots, with Gonda keeping him out before Maya Yoshida threw his body in the way on another attempt.

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Gundogan put the Germans ahead after conceding a penalty when Gonda tripped David Raum and coolly slid his kick down the middle.

Jamal Musiala gave a glimpse of his immense talent as he turned around and fired a shot over the crossbar just before half time.

Kai Havertz had just enough time to put the ball into the net before the break, but the VAR ruled out the goal for offside.

Musiala returned to harass Japan after the break, hopping through the defense before crossing over.

The 19-year-old then became provider and laid the ball off for Gundogan to hit the post.

Japan brought in livewire forwards Asano and Kaoru Mitoma to try to give the four-time Asian champion some energy.

But Germany kept up the pressure and only a series of last-ditch rescues from Gonda prevented Japan from falling further behind.

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Hiroki Sakai had a golden chance to equalise, but shot wildly over the crossbar after Manuel Neuer parried the ball in his path.

Showing him how to do it a few minutes later, Doan converted after Neuer snatched Takumi Minamino’s attempt.

Asano then sent the Japanese fans off to dreamland, racing away in the box before netting in a shot that Neuer was unable to stop.

Germany threw everyone forward in a desperate search for an equaliser, but it was too little, too late.

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