World Cup recap, day 12: Japan, Morocco make knockout round

Japan and Morocco secured historic victories in Qatar on Thursday, with Croatia also advancing to the last 16.

Day 12 of the World Cup in Doha was a huge disappointment for the German team, who went out of the tournament early for the second time in a row as Japan stunned Spain 2-1 to win their group for the first time in their history.

Morocco and Croatia also managed to bump their ticket to the last 16. However, Canada and Belgium go home after mediocre performances.

Here’s a quick recap of everything you need to know from Day 12 – Thursday 1 December – of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The Belgian Romelu Lukaku In Action With The Croat Josko Gvardiol
The Belgian Romelu Lukaku in action with the Croat Josko Gvardiol [Bernadett Szabo/Reuters]

Croatia vs Belgium

Belgium drew 0–0 with Croatia and neither team managed to score a single shot at the net in the first half.

Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois stole the show with successive stunning saves, preventing Marcelo Brozovic and Croatia’s Luka Modric from putting their team ahead.

Belgium were ranked second in the world prior to the tournament, but their trip to Qatar turned out to be a disappointment, as the team only finished third in their group – a bitter end for Belgium’s “golden generation” stars.

Croatia now progresses to the last 16, where it will play against Japan on Monday at the Al Janoub stadium.

Morocco Fans All In Red With Some Sparkly Green Eyes Looking Very Happy
Supporters enjoy the match between Canada and Morocco at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Canada vs Morocco

Morocco slipped past Canada with a 2-1 victory at Al Thumama Stadium to reach the knockout stage for the first time since 1986.

The historic victory kept the North African team at the top of Group F with seven points and sparked wild celebrations from Moroccan fans.

Hakim Ziyech scored first for Morocco in the fourth minute, followed by a goal from Youssef En Nesyri. Nayef Aguerd led Canada to a goal in the 40th minute, but it wasn’t enough to beat the mighty North African squad.

Canada’s early departure from Qatar marks a lackluster finish for the Canuck side, beating expectations that the hosts of the 2026 World Cup could exit the group stage after competing in their first tournament since 1986.

Morocco will play against Spain at the Education City Stadium in Ar Rayyan on December 6.

Morita And Gavi Come Back To Back During The Game With The Ball As If It Were Hovering Above Their Heads
Hidemasa Morita of Japan in action against Gavi of Spain, December 1, 2022 [Dylan Martinez/Reuters]

Japan against Spain

Japan scored twice early in the second half in a come-from-behind shocker as they beat Spain 2-1. The shock victory was enough for the high-flying and unpredictable Japanese team to claim first place in Group E – the first time they have done so at a World Cup.

It was the second time the team had upset a football heavyweight, after beating Germany 2–1.

Alvaro Morata’s opening goal for Spain – his third of the tournament – ​​in the 11th minute of the game was not enough, as Japan rallied fiercely at half-time, scoring back-to-back goals from Ritsu Doan and Ao Tanaka.

Japan will take on Croatia at Al Janoub Stadium on December 5.

Costa Rica Vs Germany, Group E, 2022 Fifa World Cup, December 1
Costa Rica vs Germany, Group E, 2022 FIFA World Cup, December 1, Al Bayt Stadium [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

Costa Rica against Germany

Germany defeated Costa Rica 4-2, but the victory was not enough to send the four-time World Cup champion through. Largely due to Japan’s upset of Spain, the match at Al Bayt Stadium turned out to be their last of the 2022 tournament.

It was a disappointing climax for the German squad after losing to Japan and drawing 1-1 against Spain. This was only the second time in history that the team failed to progress to the last 16, following their dismal 2018 performance in Russia.

Kai Havertz, Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane and Niclas Fullkrug converted after a fast second half, in which both teams exchanged leads. Costa Rica was also eliminated from the competition after losing 7-0 to Spain and beating Japan 1-0.

Thursday’s match was officiated by Stephanie Frappart, the first woman to officiate a men’s World Cup match.

Did you miss any of the 2022 World Cup action? Al Jazeera English has you covered. See which teams have progressed – and which are going home here. Hoping to improve your football foresight? Look no further than Kashef, our artificial intelligence (AI) predictor, who calls all matches in Qatar.

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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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