Germany 1-2 Japan: Underdogs mount stunning second-half comeback thanks to two substitute strikes

Ilkay Gundogan put Hansi Flick's side ahead from the penalty spot, but after the break, Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano came on to turn the contest around in dramatic fashion and cause another World Cup shock.

By Alex Bowmer Published: 23 November 2022 - 3.36pm
Japan's players celebrate with Takuma Asano after his winner against Germany

After Saudi Arabia's exploits on Tuesday, Japan followed up with a stunning underdog victory of their own on Wednesday as they came from a goal down to beat victory over Germany in a thrilling Group E opener.

Ilkay Gundogan put Hansi Flick's men ahead from the spot on 33 minutes, with both sides seeing a goal ruled out for offside either side of the opener.

However, in the second half, Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu made two inspired substitutions, bringing on Bundesliga pair Takuma Asano and Ritsu Doan.

Just after Shuichi Gonda had made an excellent double save from Serge Gnabry, it was Doan who was the first of the duo to make an impact at the other end on 75 minutes, just four minutes after coming on. 

Within just seconds of his own introduction, former Liverpool man Takumi Minamino saw his shot palmed away by Manuel Neuer but only into the path of Doan, who slotted into the gaping goal to send his team-mates into ecstasy. 

However, the best was yet to come as eight minutes later, a long punt upfield by Ko Itakura saw Asano nip in behind Nico Schlotterbeck and the forward fired a delightful strike into the roof of the net - although German fans might feel Manuel Neuer should have done better to close off the angle at his near post. 

Moriyasu's men ultimately held out to put their more illustrious opponents to the sword, appropriate given that their nickname is Samurai Blue.

Next up for Japan is a clash with Costa Rica on Sunday, while Germany face a potentially do-or-die game against Spain now staring World Cup group-stage elimination in the face for the second game running.