The Central Americans even went ahead 2-1, then the Germans overturned the result again, led by Havertz. But the Japan-Spain result doesn’t give Flick’s national team a chance
Germany at home, “betrayed” by Spain: but the Germans have to blame themselves, because the knockout with Japan on their World Cup debut cost them elimination in the long run. Flick’s national team beat Costa Rica 4-2 (who finished last in group E) in a pretty crazy match, but it was a very bitter success, because it wasn’t worth the pass for the round of 16. A match that goes down in history, however, for another reason: it is the first to be refereed by a woman in a men’s World Cup, the French Stephanie Frappart, assisted by the Brazilian Neuza Back and the Mexican Karen Diaz Medina. Impeccable direction in a complex race, but there really isn’t any news here: Frappart is a certainty, and not from today.
Germany to the assault, but…
Bizarre first half, at the Al-Bayt stadium in Al Khor. At half-time, Costa Rica is incredibly still in the running: “incredibly” because Germany collects at least 5-6 clean goals, in addition to the opening goal scored by Gnabry. Partly thanks to Keylor Navas and partly due to the Germans’ aiming errors, the Central Americans remain alive, just one goal away from qualifying, given that Japan is down against Spain in the other match. And at the end of the half, thanks to a double blunder by Raum and Rudiger, Fuller even has the chance to equalize, denied by an important intervention by Neuer. For the rest, there has always been no competition for a long time: it is a constant shot towards Navas’ goal, without the five-man defense fielded by Suarez being able to stem enough. Musiala slaloms and gets himself a couple of wasted chances due to excess of frenzy, Muller misses the target with a diving header, Navas gets away with Goretzka and then with a broadside from Kimmich, so the only goal of the first 45 minutes remains that of Gnabry, good at burning Duarte on 10′ and deflecting Raum’s cross into the net. Gnabry himself has the possible double on his right just before the break, but the shot from within goes just wide.
I dream of Tejeda
Doubling up, however, is no small detail for Germany. Because Japan’s draw would keep the Japanese going, in the event of a narrow victory for Flick’s national team. And in the first quarter of an hour of the recovery the unimaginable happens, in Doha as in Al Khor. A series of heart-pounding twists, as often happens at the World Cup. Japan in an instant overturns Spain, virtually putting Germany out, because with this scoring situation the Germans would need a goleada of biblical proportions to go to the second round. And while Flick and his staff are busy calculating how many goals are needed to regain control of their own destiny, Costa Rica’s sensational equalizer arrives: this time Neuer doesn’t live up to his fame, he badly rejects a diving header by Watson and allows Tejeda to find the spark of 1-1. At that point Costa Rica is closer to the finish than the Germans are. Who see the witches and immediately hit a pole with Musiala, another omen of bad luck.
Neuer disaster, Havertz is not enough
And if Neuer also gets involved, there’s trouble. The German goalkeeper, with an exit that can be reviewed, gives Costa Rica three minutes of virtual qualifying, which even goes on to lead 2-1 with a stunt by Vargas. But it didn’t last long, because Fullkrug and Havertz, who took over from Gundogan and Muller, immediately put together a 2-2 which Spain needed above all. The end of the match is marked by desperation, on both sides: Germany is looking for the goal of hope, always waiting for a gift from Luis Enrique’s Roja, Costa Rica dreams of going back and completing the business. The Germans succeed in scoring. Well twice. Again Havertz, the most concrete, and then Fullkrug after the Var check. But no more news arrives from Doha, except the most feared one, at the final whistle: Japan and Spain ahead together. Germans sadly at home, mixing their tears with those of Costa Rica.
December 1, 2022 (change December 1, 2022 | 10:00 PM)
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