The 2014 World Cup Champions, Germany, started their tournament today as they kicked off Group E play against Japan.
Germany entered the game as heavy favorites and started the match this way as they dominated possession and chances.
Germany was awarded a penalty in the 33rd minute and İlkay Gündoğan converted from the spot to put the Germans ahead. Germany entered the break with a 1-0 half time lead.
The second half continued in the same form with Germany carrying the bulk of possession. Japan goalkeeper Shūichi Gonda made some impressive saves to keep Japan within one goal.
The subs make all the difference in Japan’s stunning World Cup win
In the 71st minute, with his team trailing 1-0, Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu made two substitutions. He brought on Ritsu Doan and Takumi Minamino in an effort to provide some attack and these subs made an instant impact.
Doan scored just four minutes after entering the game. Japan worked the ball towards Germany’s box and delivered a cross just in front of Germany’s goal. Manuel Neuer was able to deflect the cross but Doan was the first one to the loose ball and slotted the ball home.
Then just eight minutes later, in the 83rd minute, Takuma Asano scored a beautiful goal to put Japan ahead. Itakura delivered a long ball over the German defenders’ heads to Asano. Asano ran full speed at Germany’s net with a defender on his back. Asano shielded the defender and delivered a sharp angled shot over Neuer and into the roof of the net.
Germany threw everything they had at Japan for the rest of the game but Japan defended extremely well to deny Germany of any great scoring opportunities and hang on to the 2-1 lead.
This was an outstanding effort by Japan as they came back and stunned Germany to take all three points from the first match of the tournament.
Germany is now looking to avoid a repeat of what happened at the last World Cup. In 2018, Germany opened group play with a 1-0 loss to Mexico, finished last place in their group and subsequently did not make the knockout stages.
Japan has pulled off the second major upset of this World Cup after Saudi Arabia beat Argentina 2-1 yesterday.