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QATAR 2022: Japan pulls another stunning comeback to beat Spain 2-1

Japan defied all odds to beat Spain 2-1 and seal qualification to the round of 16 as group winners

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For the second time in three group stage games, Japan have pulled a massive shock by coming from behind to win a game they had no business winning.

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Just as they did in their opening game against Germany, the Samurai came from behind to beat Spain 2-1 despite being the underdogs and trailing at half-time.

The win sees Japan through to the 2022 FIFA World Cup round of 16 having finished top of Group E with six points, ahead of Spain and Germany who were both heavily fancied.

Japan stuns Spain

Spain started the game with their youngest XI since 2006 and Luis Enrique's gamble appeared to pay off as they took the lead after just 12 minutes.

Alvaro Morata headed home the opening goal after connecting with Cesar Azpilicueta’s whipped cross, directing it past the helpless Shūichi Gonda.

Spain looked more likely to double their lead in the first half but the second goal never came heading into the break, which would prove to be a mistake.

Japan coach, Hajime Moriyasu’s words and substitutions at the break made an instant impact, as they struck back in stunning fashion through a quickfire double just minutes after the restart.

Ritsu Doan’s spectacular drive stunned the Spanish contingent inside the Khalifa International Stadium into silence with the equaliser but it soon got worse.

Ao Tanaka tapped into an open net after benefiting from chaos in La Roja’s penalty area to give Japan an unexpected lead in the 51st minute.

Japan did enough to hold on to the win and seal their place in the next round as group winners while Spain also qualified as second despite losing, thanks to a favourable goal difference ahead of Germany.

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