Japan continued its trend to upset the European teams at the ongoing FIFA World Cup as it staged a comeback in the second half to edge Spain 2-1 in a crucial group E encounter at the Khalifa International Stadium on Friday.
Japan made a spirited recovery in the second half to find the back of the net twice and then defended superbly to hand Spain their 1st defeat of the tournament. The Asian team stormed to the Round of 16 while Spain also advanced despite the loss, after ending in the second position of Group E. The second half saw Japan’s Ritsu Doyan blast a fabulous goal in the 48th minute to level the score. Spain was still recovering from the goal but Ao Tanaka scored in the 50th minute to give Japan the lead which proved pivotal for the Asian team.
Spain were eager to find the equalizer and made four substitutions in a span of 10 minutes with the Spanish coach going for attacking options.
The 2010 World Cup winners had their chances but the Japanese defence stood firm to block out the shots and were tenacious to defend, denying Spain a goal. Spain were unable to score in the second half as they suffered their first defeat in the FIFA World Cup. The first half saw Spain strike early through Alvaro Morata to take a 1-0 lead against Japan at the end of the first half in a Group E match at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Morata found the back of the net for Spain in the 12th minute after he went airborne to head the ball off a cross from right-back Cesar Azpilicueta to put the Spanish team ahead.
The 2010 World Cup winners dominated the first half as they enjoyed an overwhelming possession of the ball and kept things tight with immaculate passes and skilful play in the midfield.
Japan was under pressure from the word go as they hardly found possession and could not breach the Spanish defence in the limited opportunities that came their way.
Spain took lead in the 12th minute and from thereon, Japan chased a lot in the game because it was all Spain in the last few minutes. The 2010 winners, on the other hand, did not appear to be threatening enough because they had all the patience in the world to keep the possession themselves.
Japan tried to break the shackle through a counter in the 27th minute but Daichi Kamada’s run was early only to be flagged offside. The Japanese also made a challenge on Gavi that saw the play getting stopped for a while.
The Asian team tried to find an equalizer in the dying minutes of the half but were unable to get through the Spanish defence line. Spain was the dominant side as they shared more possession and were able to take a 1-0 lead at the end of the first half.
Japan lead Group E with six points under their belt while Spain are placed second in the points table.
Both teams will look to go for the kill in the second half as a win will ensure a knockout place.