Japan came from behind to stun 2014 world champions Germany in their World Cup Group E opener on Wednesday.
Midfielder Ilkay Gundogan opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, and forward Kai Havertz had the ball in the net just before halftime, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
Japan responded in the final 15 minutes with goals from Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano to claim their first-ever win over Germany and cause an early tournament upset.
Hansi Flick’s side are looking for redemption after a shock group-stage exit in the 2018 edition of the tournament.
Germany’s players covered their mouths in their pre-match team photo, while the country’s interior minister, Nancy Faeser, sat next to FIFA president Gianni Infantino, wearing the “OneLove” armband, as FIFA’s threat of sanctions over protests continued.
In another game, Croatia’s World Cup campaign got off to a stuttering start on Wednesday, drawing 0-0 against a battling Morocco, as the 2018 runners-up lacked the punch of the team that came so close in Russia.
Chances were scarce at Al Bayt Stadium as an even Group F match produced little goalmouth action, resulting in the World Cup’s third goalless draw in nine games. Both teams had chances to score, Nikola Vlasic coming close at the end of the first half and Noussair Mazraoui having a header saved.
The Croatians revolved around their captain Luka Modric, who was given the freedom of the park, floating effortlessly from back to front, with football’s traditional midfield roles appearing to not apply to the Real Madrid midfielder.
The 37-year-old was patrolling in front of his back four one minute and hanging off Andrej Kramaric’s shoulder the next, but he was always looking to open up the north Africans, whether he was hovering at right-back or hunting further forward.
Morocco looked to Hakim Ziyech for inspiration, and the Chelsea winger, recalled to the squad following the appointment of coach Walid Regragui, was their most dangerous attacking outlet in the early stages, despite a lack of end product.
While the game was low on action, it was high on intensity as both sides battled for midfield supremacy, but neither goal was really threatened until the final moments when Vlasic’s low effort was saved by Yassine Bounou.
More action erupted in the first five minutes of the second half, when Morocco’s raucous penalty appeals were turned down after Sofiane Boufal’s shot appeared to strike Dejan Lovren’s arm, just seconds before Mazraoui’s header was saved by Dominik Livakovic.
Sofyan Amrabat blocked Lovren’s effort on the slide moments later, but that was about as good as it got for Croatia until Josko Gvardiol’s header went wide in the 80th minute.
Croatia will now focus on their match against Canada on Sunday, while Morocco will face Belgium.