Germany registered a thrilling 4-2 win against Costa Rica in their last group game, but it was not enough for them to progress further, finishing a disappointing third in Group E.
Japan rallied from a goal down to beat Spain 2-1 in the other Group E contest to qualify for the last 16 stage as group topper. Spain despite the loss made it to the next round by virtue of a superior goal difference over Germany after both teams finished on four points each. Costa Rica were eliminated with Germany, ending the group stage at three points.
As it happened | Schedule & Result | Points Table
After a setback against Japan in their first opening game, Germany were at the bottom of the table before the game started against Costa Rica and needed all the permutation and combination to go their way to advance into the knockout stage. But it did not happen. Even a draw between Japan and Spain would have been enough for the four-time champions Germany, but with the Asian side registering their second upset win it was the end of the road for them.
Germany took an early lead in the 10th minute to keep themselves alive in the race, and kept the narrow advantage till the halftime break. In the second half, Costa Rica, who were also in the race and needed a win, scored the equaliser in the 58th minute before taking a surprise lead through an own goal by keeper Manuel Neuer in the 70th minute.
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Germany took back the lead quickly with substitute Kai Havertz (73rd & 85th minute) scored two quick goals. Another substitute Niclas Fullkrug increased the lead to 4-2 with a goal in the 89th minute. But before the match ended, the news of Japan’s stunning victory came in, spreading disappointments to both German players and fans inside the Al Bayt stadium.
On a night of unrelenting drama in the desert near Doha, the Germans struck first with Serge Gnabry in the 10th minute but saw the Central Americans score twice with Yeltsin Tejeda and Juan Pablo Vargas before a Kai Havertz brace put them back in front.
Fellow substitute Niclas Fuellkrug added a fourth in stoppage time but it could do nothing to prevent their elimination as Spain advanced with a superior goal difference.
It was the first time in their illustrious World Cup history that Germany had failed to win any of their first two group matches and despite bagging a win on their last attempt, they will be departing Qatar with dropped heads.
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They were teetering on the brink of elimination going into the game after losing their opening group match to Japan and then snatching a 1-1 draw against Spain.
Needing only victory to avoid a repeat of their shock 2018 World Cup first round exit, Germany, with seven Bayern Munich players in their line-up, charged forward from the start in search of an early goal to settle their nerves.
Jamal Musiala cut in from the left into the box and tested keeper Keylor Navas with a low drive in the second minute.
It was one-way traffic initially and unmarked Thomas Mueller should have done much better when he was picked out by Joshua Kimmich but could not keep his header on target.
Gnabry, however, scored with his glancing header in the 10th minute to put the four-time champions in front.
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Costa Rica, who required at least a point to have a chance to progress, rarely crossed into the German half, with only about 25% possession in the first 45 minutes.
Germany were eager to make amends for their bad tournament start with teenager Musiala repeatedly taking on the entire Costa Rican defence.
The chances kept coming but the Germans, as in the game against Japan, struggled to convert them.
They were almost punished when Keysher Fuller benefitted from a double defensive blunder but his shot was tipped over the bar by keeper Manuel Neuer, who became a World Cup record holder for goalkeepers with his 19th appearance.
With the group standings flashing on the big screen of the Al Bayt stadium, Germany grew nervous with Musiala twice hitting the post early in the second half.
Neuer, however, could do nothing 13 minutes after the restart when Tejeda thundered the ball past him on the rebound after he had first saved a Kendall Waston header.
Vargas then bungled the ball over the line in the 70th minute to put them in front.
Substitute Havertz scored twice in 12 minutes and Fuellkrug added another in stoppage time but ultimately it was too little too late with Spain advancing with a superior goal difference.
(With inputs from agencies)