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Japan complete epic turnaround to beat Spain and top Group E

DOHA, Dec 02 (thesportsman.com) - In the space of six second half minutes, Japan launched and completed an epic World Cup turnaround that saw them top Group E and beat Spain 2-1 on the night.

The Spanish also scraped through on goal difference thanks to Germany 4-2 win over Costa Rica, but this was a night of Japanese delight.

It was a comeback of the most unlikely proportions. How can a side lose 1-0 to Costa Rica and then beat Spain and Germany to top a group? It sounds like something so unlikely that it couldn’t ever be imagined ahead of the tournament, but this Japan team have become the neutral’s favourites as they’ve entertained us with every kick and become the centre of shocks.

The half-time changes by Hajime Moriyasu worked wonders. In the first period, Japan were so clearly second best that I’d penned a lovely piece about the resurgence of Alvaro Morata. But that one was sent to the scrap heap as Kaoru Mitoma and Ritsu Doan were introduced from the bench.

Suddenly, just as we saw in the Germany game, Japan took the game by the scruff of the neck and their opponents couldn’t cope. They were everywhere, overrunning the Spanish midfield that had passed them to death in the first half, and went 1-0 in front thanks to Morata. ...continue reading

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