Ilkay Gundogan put Germany ahead in the first half, but Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano scored within eight second-half minutes for Japan to win a remarkable World Cup triumph; Japan had never beaten Germany before.
Japan had never beaten their European opponents before, but they took advantage of German mistakes and wasted opportunities to record a memorable victory in Group E’s opening game.
After the game, striker Thomas Muller stated: “It’s absurd that we’re here with a loss. We played a solid game for lengthy stretches, but a game is also defined by the opportunities that are converted into goals.”
Japan had an early ‘goal’ called out for offside as well, but Hansi Flick’s team quickly went ahead when a poor challenge from goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda on David Raum resulted in a penalty, which Ilkay Gundogan converted home from the spot (33).
At the end of the first half, Germany felt they had scored a second goal, but Kai Havertz’s shot was again called out for offside.
The four-time World Cup champions saw chances come and go, with Gundogan hitting the crossbar around the hour mark, before Japan scored again late on.
Four minutes after coming on as a substitute, Doan (75) turned home from close range after a Manuel Neuer save. Germany were then caught out with a ball over the top, allowing Asano (83) to smuggle the ball home on a tight angle.
Each Japan goal was greeted with a team bundle at the corner flag, and there were joyous celebrations at full-time. “It’s a big surprise. We saw the Saudi victory over Argentina – the Asian countries are reaching the global standard,” Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu said.
For Germany, their poor World Cup form continues, having finished bottom of their group at the 2018 tournament.