World Cup recap, day 12: Japan, Morocco make knockout round
Japan and Morocco delivered historic wins in Qatar on Thursday, with Croatia also advancing to the last 16.
Day 12 of the World Cup in Doha saw huge disappointment for the German team, who crashed out of the tournament early for the second time in a row, while Japan stunned Spain 2-1, winning their group for the first time in their history.
Morocco and Croatia also punched their ticket to the last 16. Canada and Belgium, however, will be heading home after mediocre showings.
Here is a quick recap of all you need to know from day 12 – Thursday, December 1 – of the World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
Belgium drew 0-0 with Croatia and neither team managed a single shot on-net in the first half.
Belgium’s goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois stole the show with consecutive jaw-dropping saves, preventing Croatia’s Marcelo Brozovic and Luka Modric from giving their team the lead.
Belgium had been ranked second in the world ahead of the tournament but their trip to Qatar proved a disappointment with the team finishing only third in their group – a bitter end for Belgium’s “golden generation” of stars.
Croatia now advance to the last 16, where they will face Japan at Al Janoub Stadium on Monday.
Morocco slipped past Canada with a 2-1 victory at the Al Thumama Stadium to reach the knockout stage for the first time since 1986.
The historic win left the North African side at the top of Group F, with seven points, and prompted wild celebrations from Morocco’s fans.
Hakim Ziyech scored first for Morocco in the fourth minute, followed by a goal by Youssef En Nesyri. Nayef Aguerd rallied Canada to a 40th-minute goal but it was not enough to overcome the mighty North African squad.
Canada’s early exit from Qatar marks a lacklustre finish for the Canuck squad, dashing projections that the 2026 World Cup hosts could advance from the group stage after competing in their first tournament since 1986.
Morocco will play Spain at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan on December 6.
Japan scored twice early in the second half in a come-from-behind shocker that saw them beat Spain 2-1. The shock win was enough for the high-flying and unpredictable Japanese squad to claim the top spot in Group E – the first time they have done so at a World Cup.
It was the team’s second big upset of a football heavyweight, after flummoxing Germany 2-1.
Alvaro Morata’s opening goal for Spain – his third of the tournament – in the game’s 11th minute was not enough as Japan fiercely rallied at half-time, recording back-to-back goals from Ritsu Doan and Ao Tanaka.
Japan will square off with Croatia on December 5 at Al Janoub Stadium.
Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2 but the victory was not enough to send the four-time World Cup champions through. Largely thanks to Japan’s upset of Spain, the Al Bayt Stadium game 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 with Spain, marking only the second time in history the team has not advanced to the final 16, after their dismal 2018 performance in Russia.
Kai Havertz, Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane and Niclas Fullkrug converted for Germany following a rapid-fire second half, in which both teams traded leads. Costa Rica was also eliminated from the competition after a 7-0 trouncing by Spain and a 1-0 win over Japan.
Thursday’s contest was refereed by Stephanie Frappart, the first woman to officiate a men’s World Cup match.
Have you missed out on any of the 2022 World Cup action? Al Jazeera English has you covered. See which teams have progressed – and which ones are going home – here. Hoping to flex your football foresight? Look no further than Kashef, our artificial intelligence (AI) predictor, who is calling all the matches in Qatar.