Four-time champions Germany sensationally crashed out of the World Cup despite a 4-2 victory over Costa Rica in their last Group E match on Thursday, tumbling out at the first hurdle for the second consecutive time. Germany finished third in the standings, behind Spain on goal difference, with Japan top following their 2-1 win over the Spaniards.
The result left Japan facing Croatia in the last 16 while Spain will take on Morocco. 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 a Manuel Neuer own goal 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.
“In the first half I was disappointed and very angry at my team and how we allowed the opponent to come back,” Germany coach Hansi Flick said. “We wanted to score three or four goals in the first half but then we made mistakes. If we had converted those chances, 16 of them. But the tournament was not decided today for us. We did not have any efficiency at this tournament and that is why we were eliminated.”
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 from 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. 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 Neuer, whose 19th appearance at the tournament was a World Cup record for goalkeepers.
With the group standings flashing up 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. Juan Pablo Vargas then appeared to have bundled the ball over the line in the 70th minute to put Costa Rica in front but the effort was later credited as a Neuer own goal. 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.
Relive all the action from out live blog below:
Germany out, Japan through: How dramatic night at World Cup unfolded
Hansi Flick’s side were third in Group E on goal difference behind La Furia Roja, thanks to the 7-0 win over Costa Rica. But Spain were almost out of the tournament themselves when Los Ticos took the lead.
There was great controversy surrounding Ao Tanaka’s goal and whether the ball was out of play, but now Japan book a date with Croatia, and Spain are left to take on Morocco in the last 16.
Here is a timeline of how the night unfolded and the dramatic rise and fall of each side as Group E was shaken up:
Germany finished third behind Spain on goal difference, with Luis Enrique’s side out at one point after trailing Japan while Costa Rica held the lead
‘The German debacle’: Newspapers in Germany react to group-stage World Cup exit
Newspapers in Germany have reacted to the national team’s ‘embarrassing’ group-stage exit from the World Cup – the side’s second in as many world championships.
Germany are four-time World Cup winners but have followed their most recent triumph, in 2014, with back-to-back exits in the first round.
After steering the team to the trophy in 2014, coach Joachim Low oversaw their group-stage elimination in Russia, where his side finished bottom of their group after losing to Mexico and South Korea – either side of a victory over Sweden. And Low’s successor, Hansi Flick, saw his team suffer the same fate in Qatar on Thursday (1 November), as their 4-2 win against Costa Rica proved insufficient to send them into the last 16.
Having opened their account in Qatar with a shock 2-1 defeat by Japan, Germany bounced back to draw 1-1 with Spain, who had thrashed Costa Rica 7-0 in their tournament opener. But the final Group E matchday saw Japan stun Spain 2-1 to top the pool, as the Germans were eliminated in third place – behind the Spanish on goal difference.
“How embarrassing! We’re out!” read a headline by German tabloid Bild on Thursday night.
Germany’s 4-2 win over Costa Rica was not enough, as Japan shocked Spain 2-1 to seal top spot in Group E and send Hansi Flick’s team home
Fifa World Cup: Results and reactions from day twelve
This is the side of the World Cup that Qatar would prefer you ignore
It is one of the regular moments of harsh reality that takes you out of the illusion that is this World Cup. As the taxi driver drops the group off, there is a sudden plea. It is not for a five-star rating.
“Can you give me a tip please?”, he asks. “I have no money to eat.”
The driver, of south Asian descent, sends almost everything he earns back to his family. This is supposed to be the long-awaited period when such workers can generate income due to the number of visitors to Qatar but here is another who is just starving.
Anyone who has been in Doha for the first week of this World Cup would have had many similar stories pass in front of their eyes. The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre said on Sunday that there had been six cases of migrant worker abuse reported in that time alone.
To walk around Qatar is to be blinded by lights, deafened by sounds, but the football has not distracted away from the debate around the most controversial World Cup in history, writes Miguel Delaney
‘An absolute catastrophe'
Thomas Muller has described Germany’s World Cup exit as ‘an absolute catastrophe’ whilst doing his post match media duties.
“It is unbelievably bitter for us because our result would have been enough,” Muller added. “It’s a feeling of powerlessness.”
Germany crash out of World Cup group stage despite victory over Costa Rica
This is becoming a habit. The great achievers have become the great underachievers, the Turniermannschaft, the ultimate tournament team, the side who leave tournaments early, ignominiously, embarrassingly. Germany have stopped being Germany and the footballing world has lost one of its constants. Few victories have brought less pleasure to the four-time World Cup winners. This was not bittersweet because, despite Jamal Musiala’s brilliance, Kai Havertz’s brace and the latest example of Niclas Fullkrug’s power as an impact substitute, there was nothing sweet about it for Germany. Not when they are accustomed to so much more.
Their fate was in effect sealed before Stephanie Frappart, the first woman to referee a game at the men’s World Cup, blew the final whistle. It was clinched by two Japanese comebacks, the two goals in eight minutes they scored against Germany and the two in three they got against Spain. It left Germany needing five goals in the last five minutes of added time against Costa Rica.
And even on a credibility-defying night of sometimes illogical drama at the Al Bayt, that wasn’t quite possible. Instead a thrashing proved decisive: The third result that ultimately eliminated Germany was Spain’s 7-0 win over Costa Rica. As they finished level on points with Luis Enrique’s side, it meant they needed a similarly sizeable scoreline. And while they had the chances, their frailty was part of the problem. They conceded twice in 12 minutes. Somehow, they trailed in a game they dominated. The team who used to bring order to proceedings now experienced chaos.
Costa Rica 2-4 Germany: Spain’s shock defeat by Japan meant the Germans were eliminated in the first round in Qatar, finishing third in Group E
Germany eliminated from World Cup
Germany have failed to get past the group stage at each of the last two World Cups, after they had made it past the first round in each of the previous 16 tournaments since 1954.
Japan stun Spain with thrilling comeback to snatch top spot amid breathtaking World Cup drama
The ultimate lost cause, a win of historic proportions. A game of literal inches, a night of monumental drama. One former World Cup winner is out. Another no longer look like potential champions. Japan, against that, have emerged as one of the stories and revelations of this tournament.
Kaoru Mitoma’s heroic chasing of a ball that seemed certain to go out of play saw Ao Tanaka score a goal for the ages on another night that will reverberate through football history. It didn’t just mean Japan did to Spain what they did to Germany with another 2-1 comeback. It meant they finished ahead of both in the group to subject Germany to the humiliation of elimination and Spain to the embarrassment of finishing second after having almost everything their own way.
They now look flawed and vulnerable rather than imperious and victorious, as well as pathetically dependent on a German favour.
Japan 2-1 Spain: Ao Tanaka’s goal earned a win and top spot from Group E as La Furia Roja scraped through in second ahead of Germany
FT Costa Rica 2-4 Germany
Germany are out of the World Cup.
World Cup results: The scores so far from Qatar 2022
The 2022 World Cup is in full swing as 32 nations began on 20 November aiming to lift the Jules Rimet trophy in Doha on 18 December.
The tournament is the first Fifa men’s World Cup to play out in the northern hemisphere’s winter, after it was moved from its original summer scheduling to combat Qatar’s intense heat.
Brazil came into tournament as the slight favourites to win the World Cup ahead of their South American rivals Argentina. The most fancied European nations at the start of the competition were England, Spain, France and Germany, with Belgium and Netherlands also considered dark horses. As the African champions, Senegal were considered Africa’s best hope of delivering a first World Cup for the continent.
The tournament has not been without controversy, from the mid-season scheduling which has seen a raft of injuries in the lead-up to kick-off, to the broader picture of Qatar’s exploitation of migrant workers in order to build the stadiums and infrastructure required to host the four-week event. Fifa president Gianni Infantino only added fuel to the fire when he gave his extraordinary pre-tournament speech, and what has followed has been vigorous debate around showing support for LGBTQ+ rights in a conservative Islamic country where homosexuality is illegal.
Despite the off-field issues, the players on the pitch have still served up an entertaining tournament, with goals, shocks, twists and turns.
Here are the results so far at World Cup 2022:
Every result so far at the World Cup in Qatar
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies