Al Khor, Qatar – Despite winning a roller coaster match against underdogs Costa Rica, Germany failed to advance to the round of 16 of the World Cup in Qatar after Japan stunned Spain in the other Group E fixture.
Four-time champions Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2 at the Al Bayt Stadium on Thursday, but the victory was bittersweet as they finished third in the group and went down in the group stage for the second time in a row.
In a simultaneous match that took place at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Japan shockingly defeated favorites Spain 2-1, allowing both teams to advance at the expense of Germany and Costa Rica.
The match started slow, with Costa Rica struggling to get off their end, and an early goal from German striker Serge Gnabry didn’t help that momentum. However, a lightning-fast second half, which saw the lead traded between the teams, sparked the dreams of Costa Rica fans – until Kai Havertz’s brace and Niclas Fullkrug’s goal at the end of regular time dashed their hopes.
It was striking that history was also made in the match match as a French referee Stephane Frapart became the first woman to lead a men’s World Cup clash.