Germany’s inaugural World Cup game in Qatar ended in an unexpected loss thanks to a spectacular late comeback from Japan.
The Khalifa International Stadium erupted into mixed celebration and surprise when Japan won a frantic encounter that Germany dominated for long stretches but failed to capitalize on their pressure.
Substitute Takuma Asano raced up to the photographers in the stadium’s corner in utter joy after squeezing in a thunderous goal from a tight angle to give Japan a 2-1 lead.
Before the crowd realized the ball had gone in, it tumbled down from the roof of the net, causing a momentary pause in the stadium.
Ilkay Gundogan of Manchester City had given Germany the lead from the penalty spot in the first half before Japan substitute Ritsu Doan equalized in the 75th minute.
The equalizer came after a series of spectacular saves from both goalkeepers, with Japan’s Shuichi Gonda pulling off a double save to deny Serge Gnabry and Jonas Hofmann, and Germany’s Manuel Neuer getting his fingertips to Junya Ito’s effort.
Germany, which finished last in their group in Russia in 2018, had several chances to extend their lead when it was 1-0.
They face stiff competition in Group E, with 2010 champions Spain visiting on Sunday, followed by a final group game against Costa Rica.