Posted: Thursday, December 1, 2022. 4:54 pm CST.
Photo Credit: FIFA
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Germany had to work very hard to beat a very game Costa Rica 4-2 in a match that changed leader three times but was not enough for Germany as Japan took down Spain 2-1.
In front of 67,054 screaming fans at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Germany took the lead in the 10th minute through Serge Gnabry who scored a header that sailed into the far post beyond the grasp of goalkeeper Keylor Navas. Gnabry’s goal, his 21st for Germany, was his first international goal scored with the head. Germany’s last headed goal had been converted by Matt Hummels against France in 2014.
Costa Rica had a good break in the 42nd minute when a mistake by Antonio Rüdiger miskicked allowing Keysher Fuller to fire but goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was up to task and cleared.
Costa Rica fought back and tied the match in the 58th minute when Yeltsin Tejeda snapped a header in after an attempt by Kendall Waston.
The Central American side continued pressing, looking for a goal that would put them ahead and push them through to the second round. And they got it in the 70th minute when Juan Pablo Vargas knocked the ball into the net in front of Neuer. After a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) check, the goal was validated but FIFA credited it to Neuer as an own goal.
At the moment, with both Costa Rica and Japan leading 2-1, they would have qualified ahead of Spain (4 points) and Germany (1 point) had the games finished then.
But Germany tied the ball game and would go on to win 4-2against an extremely tired Costa Rican side.
Kai Havertz drew even at 2-2 in the 73rd minute and gave Spain, playing at the Khalifa International Stadium in Ar-Rayyan, breathing space. He would score again in the 85th to make it 3-2 for Germany. Niclas Füllkrug finished off Costa Rica in the 89th minute for Germany to win 4-2.
But despite the win, Germany tied with Spain with four points each and were eliminated as Spain had a much better goal difference (6-1). The 7-0 win over Costa Rica paid its dividends for La Furia Roja (the Red Fury), though for them it was a bittersweet moment as they finished second to Japan, who finished tops with six points.
For Germany, this World Cup was another disaster having crashed out twice (in 2018 and 2022) after winning the FIFA Trophy in 2014 in Brazil.
For Costa Rica, despite the win over Japan and the good fight against Germany, they feel like they underachieved, particularly considering the 7-0 blowout by Spain in the initial game.
Spain will now face Morocco in the next round while Japan will take on Croatia.
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