Japan vs Spain summary: Japan win group, score, goals, highlights 2-1 | Qatar World Cup 2022
Japan 2-1 Spain: as it happened
Japan vs Spain: thanks for joining!
Right, we're going to wrap up this live feed.
Having in the first half looked like they were going to stroll into the last 16 as group winners, Spain were completely blown away by Japan after the break. You'll struggle to find a better definition of that old football cliché 'a game of two halves'.
The Spaniards are through as Group E runners-up, but even flirted with going out altogether. For the three minutes that Costa Rica were ahead against Germany, La Roja were heading for elimination.
As for Japan, they may have been non-existent in the first half, but they were marvellous in the second. As Luis Enrique says, having beaten Spain and Germany, the Samurai Blue are deserved group winners.
The Japanese will now take on Croatia in the last 16, while Spain will face Morocco.
Be sure to join us on Friday for live-text coverage of Portugal vs South Korea and Cameroon vs Brazil, as Groups G and H reach their conclusion.
Thanks for reading!
Japanese PM congratulates team
Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida has tweeted his congratulations to the Samurai Blue.
"Coach Moriyasu and the players were under a lot of pressure, but they did a great job in the biggest game of the season," Kishida said (per Goodle Translate).
"I would like to express my sincere respect for your efforts. And I would like to share the joy of making it through the group stage with the people of Japan."
Luis Enrique: "There's nothing to celebrate"
A visibly hacked off Luis Enrique has just spoken to TVE, declaring: "There's nothing to celebrate."
“It was five minutes of complete lack of control, panic even, and they scored twice and could probably have scored twice more.”
Japan top group:
“Japan go through as group winners, deservedly so, because they beat Germany and Spain. It really annoys me, because I would have liked to win the game and win the group.”
“There’s nothing to celebrate. We’ve gone through, but this has to be a warning for us.”
Japan celebrate famous win
FIFA's social-media team have shared a few photos of Japan's wild celebrations after their win over Spain.
It's only the second time the Japanese have ever topped a World Cup group - and it's the first time they've managed to do so at a tournament where they aren't hosts.
"Havertz, eternally grateful"
AS journalist Tomás Roncero has probably summed up the feelings of a lot of Spaniards right now, tweeting: "Havertz, eternally grateful."
A reminder that it was the Chelsea man's double that took Germany from 2-1 down to 3-2 up against Costa Rica. Had Los Ticos beaten the Germans, the Central Americans would have leapfrogged Spain and sent La Roja out of the World Cup.
Morata: "This can't happen again"
Spain striker Álvaro Morata has also been speaking to TVE.
"It's unbelievable," Morata said. "The main thing is that we’re through. We have to focus on that and analyse what happened in the game […]. This can’t happen again, because we’ll be on our way home."
Busquets: "It seemed like we had the game under control"
Spain captain Sergio Busquets has been speaking to the Spanish state broadcaster, Televisión Española:
"It seemed like we had the game under control […], but in the second half, we made mistakes when bringing the ball out from the back and they scored, which gave them confidence."
Morocco up next:
"We didn’t want that to happen; we wanted to win the game. We’ll now prepare for the last 16 against Morocco, which will be a very difficult game."
Japan face Croatia; Spain get Morocco
Well, after all that talk in Spain about whether or not it was better to finish second, that's exactly what Luis Enrique's men have done. They'll now face Group F winners Morocco in the last 16 on Tuesday. That clash will take place at Education City Stadium.
As for Japan, who have reached consecutive World Cup knockout stages for the first time in their history, the Samurai Blue will meet Group F runners-up Croatia at Al Janoub Stadium on Monday.
Group E: how it finishes
It's finished Costa Rica 2-4 Germany, so here's how it has ended up in Group E.
Japan top the group with six points, and Spain go through as runners-up, with four points. Despite winning tonight, Germany are eliminated on goal difference, and the Costa Ricans - who briefly led the Germans - finish bottom with three points.
Had Costa Rica been able to hold on to their lead, Germany and Spain would have both been out.
So much drama!
Peeep peeep peeeep! Japan have beaten Spain, and win the group! La Roja go through in second - and Germany have been knocked out. It's the second straight World Cup that the Germans have been dumped out in the group stage.
That was a truly extraordinary second half of football in Group E.
It's all being played in the Japan half - Hijame Moriyasu's men are now just trying to protect their lead. As I mentioned a moment ago, a goal for Spain would send the Japanese out.
Olmo again shoots from distance, and again he fails to test Gonda. His shot trundles well wide.
Niclas Fullkrüg has scored Germany's fourth at Al Bayt. Hansi Flick's men need a fair few more to overturn Spain's goal-difference advantage, but if the Spaniards equalise, I make it that the Germans will leapfrog Japan on goal difference.
Seven minutes of time added on at Khalifa International Stadium.
Two chances for Spain - the best they've had since the break, by far. First, Asensio gets the ball out of his feet on the edge of the box and lets fly. His shot looks to be arrowing into the corner, but Gonda gets down low to parry!
A moment later, Olmo plays a one-two with Asensio, before advancing into the box. He sends a shot towards Gonda's far corner, but again the Japan keeper saves!
Another change for Japan. Wataru Endo is on for Tanaka.
Germany ahead against Costa Rica
Germany have scored again, and now lead Costa Rica 3-2. That's wonderful news for Spain, who can feel a bit more secure about at least getting second place in the group. Havertz is the scorer once more.
Again Japan come forward, and suddenly Ito is released in behind the Spain defence. Carvajal can't keep pace with him, but Simón dashes quickly off his line to clear. A let-off for the Spaniards.
Mitoma is brought down on the left flank, in a promising position for Japan to whip a ball into the mixer.
Doan delivers, and it's right to Itakura, who has acres of space - acres - to direct a header towards goal. Thankfully for Spain, whose marking was absolutely rank, his effort isn't powerful enough. Simón grabs hold.
Olmo shoots from an absolute mile out, but it's blocked.
Spain win it right back, but Alba promptly plays a pass right to Ito.
Ten minutes for Spain to at least find the equaliser that would guarantee them a last-16 place without having to depend on a favour from Germany.
Spain spend an absolute age plopping it about in front of the Japan defence, before finally Alba slaps in a cross towards the penalty spot. It's right to Morita, though, and he boots it clear.
It's genuinely astonishing how much Spain have lost their way after totally dominating the first 45.
As it stand, at least, they're going to survive this almighty scare.
Group E as it stands
1. Japan - 6pts
2. Spain - 4pts
3. Costa Rica - 4pts
4. Germany - 2pts
Havertz levels for Germany!
More news from Al Bayt: Germany have equalised through Kai Havertz. It's still not enough for Die Mannschaft, but it's great news for Spain. Costa Rica slip back to four points, and La Roja are back into second on goal difference.
Spain pop it about for a sustained period in the Japanese half, before Ferran Torres bursts into the area from the right. He lays it off to Dani Olmo at the top of the box, but Olmo can't bring the ball under his spell. Torres thinks he's been brought down and appeals for a penalty, but he doesn't get one.
Costa Rica are ahead!
What is going on here?! Costa Rica have now taken the lead against Germany! Juan Pablo Vargas with the goal!
If it stays this way in Group E, Spain and Germany are both going out!
Japan also make a substitution, withdrawing Kamada for Takehiro Tomiyasu.
On comes Ansu Fati, the Barcelona youngster replacing Gavi. Jordi Alba is also on for the Spaniards, in place of Balde.
Spain are preparing to bring Ansu Fati on.
La Roja have simply been unable to create anything since the break.
Group E as it stands
1. Japan - 6pts
2. Spain - 4pts
3. Costa Rica - 4pts
4. Germany - 2pts
Blimey, it's a totally, totally different game in the second half. Japan scamper forward down the right, working the ball to Ito. He advances towards the byline before cutting it back across the box - and with blue shirts waiting in the middle, Simón has to look alive to come off his line and deal with the danger.
Japan make another substitution, replacing Maeda with Takuma Asano, their match winner against Germany.
Costa Rica level against Germany
At Al Bayt Stadium, Costa Rica have equalised against Germany. Yeltsin Tejeda has levelled for Los Ticos, and not it is the Costa Ricans who are level on points with Spain. If it stays this way, the Spaniards' superior goal difference will take them through ahead of Costa Rica.
If Costa Rica score another, they'll leapfrog Spain into the top two, and La Roja will be heading out.
Luis Enrique wastes no time in changing things. Marco Asensio and Ferran Torres are on for Morata and Williams.
Really is hard to believe what we've just seen. Spain were so, so comfortable in the first half - and within the blink of an eye, they're now behind.
It's bad news for Germany, who are now heading out. As things stand, Japan will top the group, and Spain will finish second, ahead of the Germans on goal difference.
Goal! Japan 2-1 Spain - the Samurai Blue turn the scoreboard on its head!
Wow. What drama. Japan did absolutey diddly-squat in the first half, and within five minutes of the restart they're ahead! From the right, Doan rolls a low ball across the face of goal. Mitoma can't quite turn it into the net, but does succeed in playing it back into the six-yard box. Tanaka is there to turn it home from point-blank range - but the goal is initially ruled out, as the ball is adjudged to have crossed the byline before Mitoma passed it to Tanaka.
One VAR check later, though, the goal is given! The ball didn't quite go out.
Goal! Japan 1-1 Spain - what a strike!
Well, well, well! The Japanese certainly are showing a bit more urgency in the second half, then! It's an instant impact from Doan!
Simón plays it out to Balde, who quickly loses it on the edge of his area. Doan takes one touch to get the ball out of his feet, and with his second touch absolutely rifles the ball into the top corner. It's a really, really fine strike.
For Japan, Ritsu Doan and Kaoru Mitoma have been brought on for Kubo and Nagatomo.
Spain have also made a half-time change, replacing Azpilicueta with Dani Carvajal.
Peeeeep! The teams are back out at Khalifa International Stadium, and we're back up and running.
I've a few substitutions to tell you about.
Rodri out-passes Japan
According to SofaScore, Spain's Rodri completed 26 more passes than the whole of the Japan team in that first half.
Gnabry goal sending Germans through as it stands
At half time over at Al Bayt Stadium, Germany remain 1-0 ahead against Costa Rica. Serge Gnabry's early goal has Die Mannschaft going through in second place as things stand.
(Photo: Raul ARBOLEDA / AFP)
Morata (left) rises highest to head Spain into the lead in the 11th minute.
(Photo: JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)
Busquets one off Spanish appearance record
Incidentally, Sergio Busquets is making his 16th appearance at a World Cup today - just one short of Spain's record, which is held by fellow World Cup winners Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos.
Peeeep peeep peeeep! Olmo swings in a corner, Gonda punches it clear, and that's half time. Japan have barely tested Spain, and as things stand La Roja are easing to a victory that will see them win the group.
One can only suppose that Japan will show a touch more urgency in the second half, particularly as Germany are leading Costa Rica. If it stays this way, the Samurai Blue are heading out.
And now Yoshida is also shown a yellow card, for a foul on Morata. He's not happy about the decision, and the replay suggests he's right not to be. It looked like Morata just felling over his own laces.
Only one minute of time added on at Khalifa International Stadium. Just like old times.
This has been such a placid half for Spain.
Taniguchi becomes the second Japanese player to be booked, also for bringing down Gavi.
Busquets gives the ball away in the Japan half, but immediately wins it back - and suddenly Spain have Olmo charging towards the top of the box, readying himself to pull the trigger. Pull the trigger he does, but Taniguchi does well to throw himself in front of the shot.
Japan's Itakura is the first man into the book, after scything down Gavi.
Morata (right) celebrates his goal with Williams.
(Photo: ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP)
Well, Japan are coming out a little bit more now. They work it to Kamada on the right-hand corner of the Spain box, the Eintracht Frankfurt player taking a touch before advancing into the area. He lets fly, but Pau Torres is in the way and Kamada's shot is blocked. Spain clear.
The way things are going right now, it's going to take a Spain balls-up for Japan to get themselves level - and Unai Simón almost delivers said balls-up. Under pressure from Maeda, the goalkeeper dallies just a little underneath his posts as Spain look to play it out, but finally finds a pass out to Azpilicueta.
Every time Japan win the ball back off Spain, they lose it pretty much right away.
Maeda catches Busquets with a late challenge on the halfway line, and is slightly fortunate not to be booked.
Despite the fact they're heading out as things stand, Japan clearly have little interest in going at Spain just yet.
Again Spain keep it for a good minute or two, and Japan wait. Finally, the Spaniards lift a long ball forward in search of Olmo's run into the Japanese area, and it's too long. Japan clear.
Morata follows in Zarra footsteps
Opta note that Morata has become only the second Spaniard to score in each of his first three World Cup games, after legendary striker Telmo Zarra.
Close again for Spain... although the flag is up. Azpilicueta carries the ball forward towards the Japan box, before slipping Morata into space inside the 18-yard area. He plays a neat little reverse ball into Olmo's run to the near post, but the RB Leipzig man can't trouble Gonda - and it wouldn't have counted.
Just over 85% possession for Spain, according to the latest Opta stats at my disposal. Strewth. It's been a dominant first 20 for the Spaniards.
Japan, who really do seem startlingly reticent about coming forward finally get themselves across the halfway line, but Spain quickly win it back and launch another attack.
Gavi feeds a quick ball into Morata's run into the right-hand side of the area, but the striker's low shot isn't far enough into the corner to trouble Gonda.
It was mostly Spain ball before that opening goal, and it's been most Spain ball since then. Despite being behind, Japan continue to sit and wait for the Spaniards.
Morata moves alongside Fernando Torres
Football stats specialist Mister Chip notes that Álvaro Morata is now Spain's joint-second-highest scorer at the finals of the European Championship and the World Cup, with nine. He's level with Fernando Torres, and four off David Villa's major-tournament haul for La Roja.
So, as things stand: Spain are going through as group winners with seven points, and Germany will take second, with four points.
Goal! Japan 0-1 Spain - Morata heads La Roja in front!
Spain lead, and Morata has his third in three games! Azpilicueta crosses from the right, his delivery arrowing right on to Morata's head on the penalty spot. He directs a bullet header past Gonda and into the net, and Luis Enrique's men have the perfect start at Khalifa International Stadium!
That's the 30-year-old's 30th goal for Spain.
Germany ahead against Costa Rica!
Over at Al Bayt Stadium, Germany have taken the lead against Costa Rica - Serge Gbnabry with it!
Morata heads just wide! Olmo curls an inswinging cross into the area from the left, but Morata can't quite direct his header on target. Ah, and it looks like he was offside, anyway.
There's the first dangerous shooting opportunity, and it falls to Japan! Busquets is sloppy on the edge of the Spain area, and the Japanese work it to Kubo. He slips the ball right to Ito, who's arriving in the box at pace, but his shot is straight into the side-netting.
Back come Spain, and again it's Williams who's the outlet on the right wing. He fizzes in a low ball towards the near post, where both Morata and Olmo have peeled off in the hope of a shooting chance. William' cross is blocked, and when the ball runs out to Busquets just outside the area, he slaps a shot well over the bar.
It's pretty much been 100% Spain possession in these opening few minutes... but just as I say that, Japan carve out their first moment of attacking note.
Pau Torres' attempted through ball is cut out, and in the blink of an eye the Japanese work it right to Kubo, who scampers towards the byline. He cuts it back with Maeda waiting in the middle, but it's cut out, and Spain clear.
Spain launch their first attack of any real substance, Gavi slipping it to the right for Williams. The Athletic Club winger quickly pings a ball into the Japan box, but it's too long.
Peeeep! We're underway!
Japan are playing with a three-man defence, by the way. Taniguchi, Yoshida and Itakura are the Samurai Blue's back three, with Nagatomo and Ito at wing-back.
Tonight's match referee is South African Victor Gomes, by the way.
Out comes the teams!
The teams have emerged from the tunnel at Khalifa International Stadium, and are lined up for the national anthems. Japan first.
If you're wondering where you can tune into Japan vs Spain, let me point you in the direction of my colleague Fidel Rubio's guide on how and where to watch the game.
More from Japan boss Hajime Moriyasu
"It's going to be a high-pressure game for all the players, but we must believe in ourselves. They must believe in themselves, they must. They must believe in their team-mates in order to fight against our opponent. Hopefully, they will be at their best and the result will follow."
"We are going to show the Japanese spirit and pride and we are going to counter our opponents, fight our opponents. I hope that the players will play in such a way that they inspire the Japanese people then they keep inspiring other people."
(Quotes via Reuters; photo: Patrick Smith - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
Japan out to avenge Olympics defeat
As far as I can see, the only previous meeting between Japan and Spain’s senior sides was a friendly in Córdoba back in April 2001. Spain won 1-0, courtesy of an 89th-minute goal by former Valencia midfielder Rubén Baraja.
However, it’s also worth noting their Olympic teams - which are mostly made up of under-23s - met in the semi-finals at the Tokyo Games in summer 2021. Marco Asensio’s 115th-minute winner took the Spaniards into the gold-medal match at the hosts’ expense - and it’s a defeat that still hurts for the Japanese.
"We were very sorry that happened," says Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu, who was also in charge of the team at the Olympics. "We were very upset. But I think the players have grown since then. And now they're here."
No fewer than 12 members of the Samurai Blue’s Olympics squad are also in Qatar.
Pre-match comments: Luis Enrique
Analysis of Japan:
“Japan are a really well-drilled side. We came up against them recently in the Olympics, and there are seven or eight players who are in their squad for this tournament. In terms of their individual players, we’re talking about a really high-quality team, with a lot of players who ply their trade in Europe. They have a lot of players in the German league, plus the odd one or two in Spain. What I’d highlight about Japan is that they’re really dynamic, really quick, really annoying, in the sense that they won’t give us much time to think on the ball. Above all, I like their midfield - Kamada, Tanaka and Endo. Top players who’ll be tough to dispossess even when put under a lot of pressure.”
Easier knockout-stage path if Spain finish second?
“When you’re convinced that your team is a really good team and that we want to play seven games, it’s not about coming second. We want to come first. First. That means playing against whoever it is in the last 16… against the runners-up in Group F. Perfect. And in the quarter-finals who would we get? [The winner of] Group H, right? And in theory that could be Brazil. Great. We’ll play against Brazil.”
(Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)
The Japan players go through their warm-up routine at Khalifa International Stadium.
(Photo: REUTERS/Susana Vera)
Spain out to advance from group stage for 10th time
Spain, meanwhile, have suffered group-stage exits at just two of the last 10 World Cups - including their memorable meltdown as holders in 2014.
Should they make it through today, the 2010 winners will have progressed from the first round at 10 of the 16 World Cups they’ve qualified for.
Japan out to make Samurai Blue history
Japan, incidentally, are bidding to reach the knockouts at back-to-back World Cups for the first time in their history. They’ve been in the last 16 at three of the last five tournaments, but never consecutively.
Better to come second in the group?
One topic that has been a matter for debate in Spain in the build-up to tonight’s game is this: is it better to finish second in Group E?
With Morocco topping Group F, the runners-up in Group E will face the North Africans in the last 16, followed by a potential quarter-final which, as things stand, would be against one of Portugal and Switzerland.
For the winners of Group E, on the other hand, a last-16 tie against Croatia awaits - before a possible quarter-final that has a good chance of being against Brazil.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Luis Enrique insisted that Spain have no interest in trying to avoid top spot.
“When you’re convinced that your team is a really good team and that we want to play seven games [at the tournament], it’s not about coming second [in the group]," he said. "We want to come first.”
Spain head coach Luis Enrique (left) out on the Khalifa International Stadium pitch with Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish Football Federaion (right).
(Photo: REUTERS/Paul Childs)
Five changes each for Japan and Spain
Spain boss Luis Enrique makes five changes to the side that began Thursday's draw with Germany, as César Azpilicueta, Pau Torres, Alejandro Balde, Nico Williams and Álvaro Morata all come in for La Roja.
Rodri had been struggling with a niggle, but again plays at centre-back. Gavi was also a doubt, but likewise keeps his place. Sergio Busquets is a yellow card away from a one-match ban, but Luis Enrique hasn't opted to hold him back.
Balde and Williams both make their first start for Spain.
Japan have also made five changes: Shogo Taniguchi, Ao Tanaka, Junya Ito, Takefusa Kubo and Daizen Maeda are in for the Samurai Blue.
Japan team news
Japan's team has also dropped. Hajime Moriyasu has gone with: Gonda, Taniguchi, Itakura, Yoshida, Nagatomo, Tanaka, Morita, Ito, Kamada, Kubo, Maeda.
Spain team news
Spain's team has been announced. It is: Simón, Azpilicueta, Rodri, Pau Torres, Balde, Busquets, Gavi, Pedri, Williams, Morata, Olmo.
Morocco or Croatia up next...
By the way, we now know who the qualifiers from Group E will be facing in the last 16.
After beating Canada today, Morocco have topped Group F and will be the opposition for whoever finishes second in Spain and Japan's group. It's the first time since 1986 that the North Africans have progressed beyond the group stage.
Meanwhile, Croatia's draw with Belgium means the 2018 runners-up go through in second place in Group F, and will take on the winners of Group E.
The Belgians, who are the globe's second-best team if you believe FIFA's world rankings, are out on their ear.
(Photo: Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
What do Japan need to qualify?
As for Japan, they take on Spain knowing that a win will take them into the next round.
A draw will also be enough for Hajime Moriyasu’s side if Costa Rica vs Germany also ends in a stalemate.
If Japan draw and Germany win, it will come down to goal difference - the Samurai Blue are one goal better off as things stand - but if Costa Rica beat Germany, a point won’t do the Japanese.
Japan are definitely out if they lose.
(Photo: Mohamed Farag/Getty Images)
What do Spain need to go through?
If Spain avoid defeat against Japan, they are certain to progress to the knockout stages. What's more, La Roja can even go through with a defeat, as long as Costa Rica don't beat Germany.
If Spain lose and Costa Rica get a point, Los Ticos will only leapfrog the Spaniards into second if Luis Enrique's men are utterly hammered by the Japanese - after all, the Costa Ricans have a far, far inferior goal difference.
If Spain lose and Germany win, Die Mannschaft will also need a hefty goal-difference swing to take second ahead of the 2010 tournament winners.
(Photo: JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)
Group E: how things stand
So, this is what Group E looks like ahead of today's final round of matches.
Having thumped Costa Rica and drawn with Germany, Spain lead the way with four points, one ahead of Japan and Los Ticos.
After stunning the Germans in their World Cup opener, the Japanese could have put one foot in the next round against Costa Rica on matchday two, but were beaten by Keysher Fuller's late goal at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Thursday.
That Japan defeat was great news for Germany, who still have a very decent chance of going through despite being bottom with just a single point.
The Costa Ricans, meanwhile, are only outside the top two on goal difference and, having recovered from that thrashing by Spain to beat Japan, are still well within reach of a last-16 spot.
Japan vs Spain: preamble
Hello there! It’s time to wrap up World Cup Group E, and I’ll be bringing you live-text coverage of Japan vs Spain - two sides who head into matchday three in positions which, as things stand, would take them through to the last 16.
Kick-off at Khalifa International Stadium is at 2pm ET/11am PT, so the team news should be arriving in about an hour’s time.
We’re also covering Group E’s other game, in which Germany face Costa Rica knowing they need a win to have any hope of avoiding a second straight group-stage exit. My colleague Joe Brennan is building up to that game as we speak.
All four teams in the group can go through tonight, so a thrilling, nail-biting evening may well be in store. That sounds awfully fun - unless of course you’re Japanese, Spanish, German or Costa Rican. Vamos!