FIFA World Cup 2022 – Japan Outclassed ESP 2-1, But Both Qualify for the Round of 16
After overcoming Germany 2-1 in its opener, Japan advanced to the World Cup round of 16 by defeating Spain by the exact tally in its last group game on Thursday. Despite the setback, Spain advanced as well. Japan scored twice early in the second half to overcome another European powerhouse and advance to the knockout stage for the second time in a row. It was the first time Japan advanced beyond the group stage in consecutive tournaments.
Early in the second half, Ao Tanaka scored the game-winning goal from close range. It took almost two minutes for video review authorities to certify that the ball had not gone out of bounds before Japan’s winning goal at Khalifa International Stadium, where Japan had stunned Germany in its opener. Japan finished first in Group E, advancing to the round of 16 against Croatia. Spain finished second and will face Morocco next. Spain and Germany, which defeated Costa Rica 4-2 in the group stage, each got three points. However, Germany was eliminated due to Spain’s better goal difference after its first group encounter.
Belgium’s World Cup run came to an end with a 0-0 tie at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, leaving them four points behind Croatia (six) and Morocco (four) (seven). Romelu Lukaku squandered several open goal opportunities in the six-yard box, which came back to punish Belgium’s golden generation. In the other Round three group stage encounter, Morocco defeated Canada 2-1 to finish first in the group, following a 0-0 tie with Croatia and a 2-0 win against Belgium.
Confirmed Lineups of Japan and Spain
Japan: Shuichi Gonda (GK), Shogo Taniguchi, Ko Itakura, Yuto Nagatomo, Takefusa Kubo, Hidemasa Morita, Junya Ito, Daichi Kamada, Ao Tanaka, Maya Yoshida, Daizen Maeda
Spain: Unai Simon (GK); Azpilicueta, Rodri, Pau Torres, Balde, Busquets, Pedri, Gavi, Nico Williams, Dani Olmo, Morata