|Japan's players celebrating Ritsu Doan's equaliser against Germany. His team eventually won 2-1. — Photo AFP/VNA|
HÀ NỘI — Another underdog comeback story involving an Asian team was recorded on matchday four of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Japan, ranked 24th in the world, won 2-1 against four-time world champions Germany, despite being behind 0-1 for seventy-four minutes of the game. Croatia, 2018 runners-up, was held to a 0-0 draw against Achraf Hakimi's Morocco.
In the late matches, favourites Spain and Belgium got the three points they need, but in entirely different fashion.
Japan's Attack on Titans Germany
Just a day after Saudi Arabia pulls of one of football's shocking victories against Argentina, the whole continent of Asia was rocked again with another similar victory.
Having gone behind due to a penalty from Ilkay Gundogan, the task for the Japanese however, was much harder than the Saudis.
Hansi Flick's Mannschaft put on enormous pressure for the first part of the match, before stepping off the gas with ridiculous and complacent plays in the last ten minutes.
Substitutes made by Hajime Moriyasu brought Japan the wind of change that the Blue Samurai needed. Takumi Minamino, who was subbed in at the 74th minute, pulled off a shot one minute later that rebounded off Manuel Neuer, only for Ritsu Doan, who came on at the 71st minute, to tap in the empty net.
In the 83rd minute, Takuma Asano, another substitute, took advantage of Niklas Sule's faults in Germany's offside trap. From an impossible angle, Asano hit the top of Neuer's net and completed Japan's comeback.
With this victory, Japan got themselves a precious three points, in the so-called the Group of Death.
Croatians' sigh of relief
|A dismal performance from Modric (top) and company held Croatia to a draw. — AFP/VNA Photo|
Sixty eight per cent of possession was the statistics that Croatia had in their match against Morocco. The 2018 World Cup runners-up, however, were troubled due to Morocco's intense pressing plays.
Croatia's best chance in the first half came only at the first minute of added time, as Nikola Vlasic was free and tap in from a cross. Had it not been for Yassine Bounou's inhuman reactions, Croatia might have got the lead.
After the break, Croatia went out of their comfort zone and had many chances. The scoreboard however, did not change, due to Bounou and Achraf Hakimi's heroic efforts.
Morocco also got their fair share of chances, especially in the final half-hour. Achraf Hakimi could have sent Al-Bayt into a frenzy with a fantastic shot from long range, had Livakovic did not make an acrobatic save.
The speed of the match slowed down in the final minutes and the match ended 0-0. With this result, Croatia made their journey difficult, with their two remaining opponents are Canada and Belgium.
Spain's demonstration of strength and youth
|Teenager Gavi (9) led Spain in their thrashing of Costa Rica on Wednesday. — AFP/VNA Photo|
The fourth youngest squad ever this World Cup, with the average age of 25.6, did not let supporters of La Furia Roja down.
Luis Enrique's side had 82 per cent of possession, completed 1,056 passes and faced 0 shots from Costa Rica. A clear definition of an one-sided affair.
Dani Olmo was the first to open the scoreboard in the 11th minute, before Marco Asensio doubled the scoreline just ten minutes later. Former Man City striker Ferran Torres made it 3-0 before the break with a penalty shot.
After a dull first ten minutes, the Spain machine continue their demolition, with Torres completing his brace in the 54th minute, before Golden Boy winner Gavi fired in a wonder goal twenty minutes later.
Although the clock struck 90, Spain did not stop, and scored two more goals in the space of two minutes to make it 7-0 for Spain.
With this victory and group contender Germany's defeat, Spain are surely in prime position for Group E's first place. They will meet the Germans on Monday.
Belgium earn hard victory against newcomers Canada
|Thibaut Courtois (1) saving Alphonso Davies (19)'s penalty in the first half. — AFP/VNA Photo|
In their long awaited return after 36 years, Canada almost make veterans Belgium shellshocked.
A penalty was given to Les Rouges after a handball from Yannick Carrasco in the 9th minute, but Alphonso Davies's shot was saved by Thibaut Courtois, who saved 5/9 penalties in 2022.
John Herdman's side made 21 shots compared to Belgium's 9, however, efficiency was not there for the Canadian, but rather, for Belgium.
In the 44th minute, Toby Alderweireld's long ball reached Michy Batshuayi, who fired a first time shot that beat Milan Borjan for Belgium's first and only goal of the match.
With this victory, Belgium topped group F, and will face Morocco on Sunday, with a victory granting them the ticket to the Round of 16. — VNS