Japan 0-1 Costa Rica: Late twist throws Group E wide open

Japan 0-1 Costa Rica: Late twist throws Group E wide open

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The tikos scored with their only shot on goal, completely against the run of play.

Yet again we witness that in a World Cup, any sensible bet can be blown out of the water.

Japan looked like a giant in the hands of fragile Costa Rica, but when it came to the crunch, the Japanese got stuck in front of the Tikos' organized defence, churning a magnificent opportunity to qualify for the round of 16.

Now, they will have to play for a win against Spain on the last matchday, with Costa Rica surprisingly in the lead.

Luis Fernando Suarez's men made the most of their only shot on goal. Unbelievable.

The Japan that made a splash against Germany in the opener was not to be seen. Costa Rica, on the other hand, bounced back tremendously from their humiliating defeat against Spain.

Luis Fernando Suarez's team showed discipline, dug in at the back with five defenders and looked for the gaps in between the lines and the inspiration of Joel Campbell.

In the first 45 minutes, they were not able to create chances, but they did manage to restrain the Japanese, who were stuck.

Disappointing first half

Hajime Moriyasu's decision to make four changes to a team that had performed very well will raise even more eyebrows. Morita's substitution for Sakai was forced on by the Urawa Red Diamonds right-back's injury, but Tanaka, Junya Ito and Take Kubo were also left out.

Costa Rica, on the other hand, made just two changes, Waston and Torres for Carlos Martinez and Bennette.

Credit to the Tikos fans at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, chanting 'yes, we can'.

Japanese dominated possession but created very little in the first half. Only a dangerous cross from Ritsu Doan after 13 minutes stands out.

Japan step up... and the tikos score

Hiroki Ito and the very fast Asano came on at the restart, as Japan switched to three at the back and stepped up their game. The result was a first big chance just thirty seconds after the restart.

Asano and Morita played one-on-one and Morita's shot pulled a good save from Nevas. After that, it was Endo who tried his luck. The Asian team came out on top and Costa Rica began to lose their seams. A script much more in line with expectations.

The tikos held on. Soma's cross-shot went wide, then a very dangerous free-kick went over. Japan seemed to be inching closer to the first goal.

Costa Rica then turned the game on its head. Fuller received inside the penalty area and left-footed a lob that completely threw Gonda off his stride. The Japanese goalkeeper got a good hand to it and will be disappointed that he didn't manage to parry it away.

One shot on target, one goal. Spectacular efficiency.

In desperation, the 'samurais' came close to equalizing, but the looming figure of Keylor Navas saved Kamada's shot and the following ricochet.

Costa Rica achieved what no one could have imagined. Germany have been handed an unlikely lifeline as the group is now wide open, in the World Cup of surprises.

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