DOHA, Qatar – Another World Cup day, another World Cup clash.
Substitutes Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano scored late goals on Wednesday to give Japan a 2-1 win over Germany.
Doan and Asano both play for German clubs.
“I believe this is a historic moment, a historic victory. If I think about the development of Japanese football, thinking about the players, it was a big surprise for them,” said Japanese coach Hajime Moriyasu, who had five Germany-based players in his squad. starting eleven and three, including the scorers, on the bench.
“They are fighting in a very strong, difficult and prestigious league. They have strengthened their strength. In this context, we believe that these divisions (Bundesliga and second division) have contributed to the development of Japanese players,” Moriyasu said. said. “I’m very grateful for that.”
Ilkay Gündogan gave the four-time German champions the lead with a penalty in the first half. But Doan, who plays for Freiburg, pounced on a rebound to equalize in the 76th minute after Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer blocked a Takumi Minamino shot.
Then Asano, who plays for Bochum, sprinted past Nico Schlotterbeck and beat Neuer from a tight angle in the 83rd minute of the first competitive encounter between the two nations.
The game was played a day after Argentina lost 2-1 to Saudi Arabia.
Ahead of Wednesday’s match, Germany’s players covered their mouths during the team photo in an apparent rebuke to FIFA over its decision to halt plans to wear armbands to protest discrimination in the host country, Qatar.
Nancy Faeser, Germany’s sports minister, attended the game at Khalifa International Stadium and sat next to FIFA President Gianni Infantino while wearing the same “One Love” armband that FIFA had banned with its threats to consequences.
It was only the third time Germany had lost their tournament opener after defeats to Algeria in 1982 and Mexico in 2018. In the other World Cup openers for the Germany, the team had won 13 matches and drawn four.
Germany dominated Japan for much of the match with 24 attempts on goal against Japan’s 11. Despite awarding the penalty for a clumsy challenge on left-back David Raum, Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda made a series of saves and was the player of the match.
“We fought as a team,” Gonda said. “We have to make sure we never stop.”
Japan next take on Costa Rica, while Germany take on Spain on Sunday.
Germany’s rise has been marked by protests and political pronouncements due to Qatar’s human rights record and its treatment of migrant workers and members of the LGBTQ community.
Germany were playing at the World Cup for the first time since their shock exit from the group stage as defending champions in 2018, while Japan are in their seventh consecutive World Cup and are looking to reach the quarters of final for the first time.