Japan boss responds to controversial World Cup goal vs Spain

Morocco fans celebrate reaching World Cup last 16

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Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu has defended his side’s winning goal against Spain on Thursday after the controversial strike knocked Germany out of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. A 2-1 win over Spain at the Khalifa International Stadium secured top spot in Group E and sent Germany packing in the group stage for a second successive time.

Japan faced elimination at half-time, with Spain and Germany both 1-0 ahead in their fixtures. However, Moriyasu changed the game with two substitutions at the break, bringing on Ritsu Doan and Kaoru Mitomo. Doan equalised with a fizzed strike from range before Mitomo provided the assist for Ao Tanaka’s go-ahead goal just over two minutes later.

The assistant referee initially ruled the goal out, adjudging that the ball crossed the byline before Mitomo reached it and played it across the goal. But VAR overruled the decision, claiming the curvature of the ball was hanging over the chalk, despite it looking out of play to the naked eye.

Germany’s 4-2 win against Costa Rica wasn’t enough to eclipse Spain’s goal difference, meaning anything less than a win for Japan would’ve seen Hansi Flick’s side progress into the knockout stages. And amid the controversy surrounding the Samurai Blue’s winner, Moriyasu has urged sceptics to trust in the technology.

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He said: “Whether the ball was out or not, there is great technology nowadays for big football, and if it was really out, it would have been a goal kick. But the judgement of the referee is that it was in – and we respected that. We were able to accept it either way – and in the end, it was decided it was in.”

Moriyasu also admitted that he chopped and changed his tactics before guiding Japan to the famous victory. After beating Germany and Spain in Group E, the Asians will feel like they can conquer any opponent and shock the world this winter.

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“Two days before the game, we had a different plan, but during the training, we confirmed a few things, and the players gave me some ideas,” Moriyasu explained.

“I couldn’t decide on the tactics, and at the end of training, we had a few options. We talked together with the players and chose a certain option from them. Now all the people of Japan can share our happiness.”

Japan will face Group F runners-up Croatia in the last 16 on Sunday.

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