Keysher Fuller’s goal marked the difference between the two teams.
Costa Rica has beaten Japan 1-0 to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the next round of the World Cup.
Luis Fernando Suárez’s players spent most of Sunday’s game on their back foot, but prevailed with a beautiful curl from right-back Keysher Fuller in the 81st minute, their first and only shot on goal.
Japan, who entered the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium full of confidence after their victory over Germany, lacked the forward edge to break through a resolute Costa Rican defense.
The game seemed headed for a severe stalemate, but it came to life after Fuller’s late goal.
The result opens Group E wide. Costa Rica, which lost its opening match 0-7 to Spain, is still remarkably in the mix to qualify for the next round.
A victory on Sunday would have secured Japan’s place in the round of 16, but now they will need to get a result in their last game against Spain to keep their hopes of qualifying alive.
Japan made five squad changes that stunned Germany in their opener as coach Hajime Moriyasu made the most of his 26-man squad.
With temperatures of 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Japan immediately went on the attack, earning a corner within 30 seconds to signal their intent.
Costa Rica coach Luis Fernando Suárez had resisted making complete changes to the team defeated by Spain, leaving teenage winger Jewison Bennette and defender Carlos Martínez on the bench.
Gerson Torres and 34-year-old central defender Kendall Waston took his place in an aging XI that featured four players from the 2014 World Cup quarterfinals.
But Japan’s early promise melted in the Doha sun and the first shot on goal, a tame effort that sailed far and wide, didn’t come until 10 minutes before halftime through Costa Rica’s 30-year-old Joel Campbell. years.
Joel Campbell won 15 duels against Japan, the most by a player in a single game at the 2022 World Cup.
—Squawka (@Squawka) November 27, 2022
A sad first half came to an end with “Los Ticos” having had more of the ball but neither of them finished off on goal.
Moriyasu had seen enough and made a double substitution at half-time, one of them introducing Bundesliga striker Takuma Asano, who scored the winner against the Germans.
The Blue Samurai were immediately sharper and midfielder Hidemasa Morita pulled off the first proper save of the game just seconds after the restart with a powerful shot.
Moriyasu bowled Brighton attacker Kaoru Mitoma for a defender just after the hour as Japan chased the win that would put them on the cusp of the round of 16.
It was all Japan as the game progressed through the final 20 minutes in front of 41,000 spectators.
Substitute Junya Ito seemed to have escaped and was closing in on goal, but Costa Rica defender Francisco Calvo cynically pulled him to the edge of the box, earning himself a yellow card that could easily have been a red.
Costa Rica had done nothing for most of the game as a attacking force, but nine minutes into regulation they robbed it when Fuller’s shot deflected wide and entered.