Costa Rica produced a late strike and tackle to beat Japan 1-0 on Sunday, giving themselves and Germany a potential path back to the World Cup in the process.
A sluggish contest that seemed set to be the tournament’s sixth dead end finally brought something noteworthy when Keisher Fuller landed a shot to the top left corner with nine minutes left.
Japan was pretty much the better side, especially in the second half, but Costa Rica took the lead with their first shot on goal of the tournament.
As a result, both teams are three points ahead of advancing to the final games, and Germany now has a chance to qualify for the playoffs with a win over Costa Rica in their final match, regardless of their result against Spain later on Sunday.
1 – Costa Rica scored from the first shot on target at the 2022 World Cup (four shots in total). Efficiency. pic.twitter.com/ttnRDwph1R
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) November 27, 2022
The only noteworthy moment in the preliminary first half came when Ritsu Doan hit a lowball through the six-yard box from the right, but there were no Japanese players to reach the end.
Takuma Asano came on at half-time, a change that almost had an immediate impact as his touch on Hidemasa Morita at 25 seconds into the second period saw the latter take the first shot on goal of the bout, with Keylor Navas diving to his left. palm away.
Japan showed more intent to go and win the game in the second half, with Yuki Soma first cutting from inside the left and shooting high and wide before taking a free kick from the edge of the box over the crossbar.
An unexpected moment came in the 81st minute when a poor clearance by the Japanese got the ball to Yeltsin Tejeda, who was playing in Fuller, to shoot, and the Japanese goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda got stuck under the ball and could not hold it.
What does it mean? Unlikely Costa Rica victory
It really felt like a game between two teams that didn’t know how to be the aggressors, at least in an attacking sense, as Japan allowed 12 fouls in the first half.
After a blocked shot by Costa Rica’s Gerson Torres in the fourth minute, neither team made any attempt until the 35th minute.
However, Luis Fernando Suarez’s men may have planned to keep things low from the start, they only had four shots to 13 with their only goal on target, but it was enough to keep their championship hopes alive. peace.
From a dirty sheet to a clean one
Costa Rica didn’t start the World Cup very well, which seems like a bit of an understatement.
Their 7-0 loss to Spain was due to being dragged back and forth and unable to cope, but they were more tenacious against an admittedly more limited Japan.
Japan can’t support him
Japan has never lost to Costa Rica before, having won three and played one of the previous four meetings.
However, they simply could not get down to business and still have not won both of their first two matches of the same tournament at the World Cup.
Japan’s final clash in Group E will take place against Spain, while Costa Rica will play Germany, with both games taking place simultaneously on Thursday.