Another day, another helping of drama and narrative in Qatar. 

Heavyweights Spain and Germany battled it out as the main event, but there was plenty to enjoy as Morocco got the better of Belgium and Croatia dominated Canada.

The day’s results

Japan 0-1 Costa Rica

Belgium 0-2 Morocco

Croatia 4-1 Canada

Spain 1-1 Germany

Match summaries

Japan 0-1 Costa Rica

Costa Rica stunned Japan with an unlikely victory thanks to a late goal from Keysher Fuller.

The defender’s shot from just inside the box should have been saved by goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda, but he failed to get enough contact on the ball.

Raucous Costa Rican celebrations followed as Luis Fernando Suarez’s team redeemed themselves following their 7-0 defeat to Spain in the group opener.

Japan, having pulled off one of the shocks of the first round of games with a 2-1 victory over Germany, were subdued and ineffective in attack, perhaps affected by the early afternoon heat in Al Rayyan.

Daichi Kamada missed a good chance to equalise with 88 minutes gone but couldn’t convert, leaving Japan in a precarious position in Group E.

Hajime Moriyasu’s team will likely need at least a point against Spain in their final group game, while Costa Rica’s hopes of an unlikely qualification are still alive before they face Germany.

Costa Rica vs Japan

Belgium 0-2 Morocco

An effervescent Morocco pulled off a deserved victory against Belgium at Al Thumama Stadium.

Having more than matched their more fancied opponents throughout, the North Africans took the lead when Abdelhamid Sabiri’s wicked free kick from the left flank evaded everyone and crept in at Thibaut Courtois’ near post.

Hakim Ziyech appeared to have scored an almost identical goal late in the first half, but that was ruled out with Romain Saiss in an offside position.

Morocco were undeterred and continued to harry a lacklustre, lethargic Belgium side. And after Sabiri’s set-piece broke the deadlock, there was no way back for the Europeans.

Jan Vertonghen headed wide and Romelu Lukaku made his return from injury from the bench as Roberto Martinez instructed his team to push forward.

But Belgium were caught on the break and Ziyech’s cut-back was met by Zakaria Aboukhlal, who fired his finish into the roof of the net from close range.

That result leaves Morocco second in Group F, a point above Belgium and level with Croatia.


Croatia 4-1 Canada

Canada’s early promise didn’t last at the Khalifa International Stadium as they fell to a heavy defeat at the hands of 2018 finalists Croatia.

The North Americans were energetic and threatening once again after impressing in their opener against Belgium, and it took them just two minutes to take the lead when Alphonso Davies met a cross with a powerful header.

Croatia looked rocked and struggled to cope with Canada’s pace early on, but they were level just after the half-hour mark as Andrej Kramaric was slipped through by Ivan Perisic and finished well into the bottom corner.

Just before half-time, Marko Livaja put Croatia ahead with a superb low shot from the edge of the box.

Canada battled admirably after the break, but the game was over in the 70th minute when Kramaric added his second, again provided by Tottenham’s Perisic.

A mistake in added time from defender Kamal Miller allowed Lovro Majer to tap home from close range and put the gloss on an impressive Croatia victory.

The result means Canada are knocked out, while Croatia are in pole position to qualify ahead of a mouthwatering clash with Belgium.


Spain 1-1 Germany

Two of the World Cup’s most storied nations played out a tense, tactical draw that kept Germany in contention to qualify for the last 16 and saw Spain stay top of Group E.

It was the Spaniards who went in front after a cagey first-half, with Alvaro Morata prodding past Manuel Neuer at the near post to finish off a well-crafted move.

Germany responded well, though, and after a prolonged period of pressure substitute Niclas Fullkrug’s emphatic finish levelled the scores.

Hansi Flick’s side looked the more likely to win it late on and Leroy Sane came close when he rounded goalkeeper Unai Simon, but the shares were spoiled at Al-Bayt Stadium.

Germany now need to beat Costa Rica in their final group game and hope that Spain defeat Japan.


Goal of the day

Marko Livaja

In a free-flowing attacking display, Croatia showed their quality against Canada and reminded everyone why they did so well at Russia 2018.

And Livaja scored the pick of the goals, drilling a low finish with pinpoint accuracy into the bottom left corner, past the helpless goalkeeper.

Save of the day

Manuel Neuer

Manuel Neuer’s reflexes were tested when Dani Olmo unleashed a rasping shot in the early stages of Spain’s draw with Germany.

The Bayern Munich goalkeeper, at full stretch, pushed the ball against the woodwork to prevent what would have been one of the goals of the tournament.


Player of the day

Ivan Perisic

Kramaric may have got the headlines but it was Perisic who proved Croatia’s most effective player against Canada.

With two assists and an involvement in most of his team’s attacking play, the Spurs man was too much to handle for Canadian right-back Alistair Johnston.

Perisic is now the only player to have managed at least one assist in the last five major international tournaments, stretching back to World Cup 2014.

Magic moments

  • The expressions of joy and relief on the faces of Costa Rica’s players after Keysher Fuller’s late winner against Japan.
  • Morocco’s vocal, passionate supporters celebrating the second and decisive goal in the win over Belgium.
  • Alphonso Davies scoring Canada’s first ever World Cup goal just a couple of minutes into their match with Croatia.
  • Niclas Fullkrug, who only made his international debut earlier this year, scoring a key goal for Germany at the World Cup.
Alphonso Davies

Quote of the day

Croatia striker Andrej Kramaric in response to Canada coach John Herdman’s pre-match comments

“His words have motivated the whole of Croatia. I want to thank the coach of Canada for the motivation. He could have chosen better words. In the end Croatia demonstrated who F’d whom.”

Image of the day

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Upcoming fixtures

Monday 28 November: 

Group G: Cameroon vs Serbia - 10am KO

Group H: South Korea vs Ghana - 1pm KO

Group G: Brazil vs Switzerland - 4pm KO

Group H: Portugal vs Uruguay - 7pm KO