Japan controversially earn knockout stage berth

Japan controversially earn knockout stage berth

Japan completed another incredible World Cup comeback, this time defeating Spain to win Group E and go to the round of 16, thesportsbay.com reports.

Spain were utterly dominant in the first half at the Khalifa International Stadium and looked set to advance in first place after Alvaro Morata headed home his third goal of the tournament.

But after the break, everything changed when Kaoru Mitoma’s cut-back, which initially appeared to have gone out of play, was turned around by Ao Tanaka and substitute Ritsu Doan, who equalized with a shot from the edge of the box.

After the goal, there was a lengthy VAR review, but it shockingly decided in favor of Japan because the full curvature of the ball was not deemed to have crossed the line. This left Spain, who had been sluggish in the second half despite having earlier dominance, to worry about their spot in the round of 16.

It turned out to be the turning point in an incredible performance against a Spain team that was fortunate to advance alongside Japan to the knockout round.

This was possibly the most dramatic night thus far in a tournament that has been full of surprises, with Spain having to wait to advance on the outcome of Germany’s match with Costa Rica.

At one point, when Costa Rica went in front in their 4-2 loss to Germany, Spain were heading out along with Hansi Flick’s side, but in the end their superior goal difference, thanks to their 7-0 win over Costa Rica in their opening game, ensured they snuck through to knockout stages at the expense of the Germans.

Spain will now face Morocco in the last 16, while Japan, who also came from behind to beat Germany but lost to Costa Rica in a remarkable group-stage campaign, will take on Croatia.