Japan stunned Germany with a 2-1 come-from-behind victory at the World Cup in Qatar.
- Germany also lost their opening match at the 2018 World Cup
- The upset comes a day after Saudi Arabia stunned Argentina
- Japan’s goals came from substitutes Takuma Asano and Ritsu Doan
While the Germans made light of what they called FIFA’s silence on Qatar’s human rights issues ahead of the match, their opponents went from strength to strength as the match progressed.
Goals in the last 15 minutes from substitutes Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano enabled Samurai Blue to record a famous win.
Asano’s 83rd-minute match-winner, which curled from a tight angle past Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and into the net, was first class.
Samurai Blue was sparked by Ritsu Doan eight minutes from time when he coolly finished with his left foot after Neuer deflected Takumi Minamino’s cross.
Neuer had rescued Germany’s blushes just two minutes earlier with a fine one-handed save to keep Japan at bay, but his reflex saves were ultimately to no avail as Germany fought to the death to salvage a draw.
They even fired a few late shots only to be off target or deflected.
Neuer was far from satisfied with the result.
“It’s ridiculous that we’re here with a defeat,” he said.
“There was a bit of urgency missing in our effort to score the second goal and we allowed Japan to get back into the game. We didn’t play with the same confidence after the break.”
However, the match did not always go Japan’s way.
The German protest then soon dominates
In fact, before the ball was even kicked, Germany stole the headlines when their starting XI covered their mouths for their team photo as a form of protest.
The protest was in response to a warning by soccer’s governing body FIFA that any team captain wearing a “One Love” armband to protest discrimination in host country Qatar would be yellow carded.
Qatar is under scrutiny for its human rights record and laws criminalizing homosexuality.
The German Football Association (DFB) supported the player in a statement published on social media.
“We wanted to use our captain’s armband to stand up for the values we stand for in the German national team: diversity and mutual respect. Together with other nations, we wanted our voice to be heard,” the statement read.
“It was not a political statement, but human rights are non-negotiable.
“That should be taken for granted, but it still isn’t. That’s why this news is so important to us.
“To deny us a wristband is to deny us a voice. We stand our ground.”
The German government backed the stance and Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, sitting in the stands next to FIFA president Gianni Infantino, wore a band on her sleeve as she chatted with the soccer administrator.
She has previously criticized FIFA, saying the threat of sanctions was a mistake and unacceptable behaviour.
“It’s not right how the federations are put under pressure,” Faeser said during a visit to Doha by the German FA ahead of the match.
“In this day and age, it is incomprehensible that FIFA does not want people to openly stand up for tolerance and against discrimination.”
Their stance on human rights ended up being the real highlight of the night for Germany, who seemed to be in control for most of the match.
The only real chance Japan created in the first half came when striker Daezen Maeda found the net in the 8th minute but was ruled offside.
From there, it was Germany who controlled the game, delivering wave after wave of attacking football to pressure Japan.
In the 33rd minute, the barrage that had repelled several German attacks finally broke when goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda clumsily fouled David Raum as he pushed the Germans into the area.
Ilkay Gundogan stepped up and sent Gonda the wrong way to score for the Germans and give them a 1-0 lead.
And they looked set to double that lead before the break when Kai Havertz tapped in at the back post but was ruled offside in what proved to be a costly error.
The loss to Germany comes on the heels of World Cup winners Argentina being humbled by Saudi Arabia and puts them in a precarious position in what is being billed as a “Group of Death”, including Spain and Costa Rica.
It’s an uncomfortably familiar slump for the four-time winners and a repeat of the nightmare they endured in Russia 2018 when they lost their opening game to Mexico before falling short after defeat to South Korea in their final group game. make the elimination stages.
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