Another World Cup day, another World Cup shock.
Substitutes Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano scored late goals Wednesday to give Japan a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Germany.
Both Doan and Asano play for German clubs.
“They’re fighting in a very strong, tough, prestigious league. They’ve been building up their strength. In that context we believe that those divisions [Bundesliga and second division] have been contributing to the development of Japanese players,” Moriyasu said. “I’m very grateful for that.”
Ilkay Gundogan had given four-time champion Germany the lead with a first-half penalty. But Doan, who plays for Freiburg, pounced on a rebound to equalize in the 76th minute after Germany’s goalkeeper Manuel Neuer blocked a shot from Takumi Minamino.
Then Asano, who plays for Bochum, sprinted clear of Nico Schlotterbeck and beat Neuer from a narrow angle in the 83rd minute of the first competitive meeting between the two nations.
The match was played a day after Argentina’s 2-1 upset loss to Saudi Arabia.
Germany outplayed Japan for much of the match with 24 attempts on goal compared to Japan’s 11. Despite giving away the penalty for a clumsy challenge on left back David Raum, Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda made a string of saves and was player of the game.
“We fought as a team,” Gonda said. “We have to make sure we never stop.”
Germany protests controversies surrounding Qatar
Germany’s players covered their mouths for their team photo before their opening World Cup match in an apparent rebuke of FIFA’s clampdown on plans to wear armbands to protest discrimination in host nation Qatar.
The team lined up in the traditional formation before Wednesday’s game against Japan and each of the 11 players covered their mouth with their right hand. It seemed to be a response to FIFA’s warning to the seven European federations that players would be penalized if they wore colorful “One Love” armbands as a symbol of inclusion and diversity.
Qatar has been under scrutiny for its human rights record and laws criminalizing homosexuality.
Nancy Faeser, Germany’s sports minister, attended the match at the Khalifa International Stadium and was sitting beside FIFA president Gianni Infantino while wearing the same “One Love” armband that FIFA had outlawed with its threats of consequences.
Germany has been playing at the World Cup for the first time since its shocking group-stage exit as defending champion in 2018, while Japan is appearing in its seventh straight World Cup and is looking to reach the quarterfinals for the first time.
Japan next plays Costa Rica, while Germany faces Spain on Sunday.