Wow... just wow! Spain winners, losers & ratings as La Roja ride their luck to set up Morocco last-16 showdown on a night that belonged to Japan
Football is never as simple as it looks.
In a World Cup group containing two former winners of the illustrious prize, alongside two nations who are largely considered minnows in the game, the very real possibility that the two former winners could go out was simply incomprehensible.
But alas, that reality came to be. At least for a while.
Spain strolled into half-time with a 1-0 lead and looked comfortable. However, a rally from Japan saw them burst into a 2-1 lead after the break thanks to the iconic Ritsu Doan and a rather controversial strike from Ao Tanaka.
Fair or not, Japan had a lead against the 2010 world champions, having already beaten the 2014 champions in Qatar. And with Germany stuttering against Costa Rica elsewhere in Group E, there was a (very) brief moment where both Japan and Costa Rica were advancing at the expense of Spain and Germany.
Kai Havertz fired in for 2-2 to ensure that didn't happen, which ultimately spared Spain's blushes as it ensured they progressed to the knockout stages, albeit in second place. Germany would end up winning 4-2, but needed a favour that never came from the Spaniards in order to progress themselves.
La Roja couldn't find a way through and fell into their old, toothless ways against a Japan outfit that you can't help but love, sending Germany out of the World Cup in doing so. Here are GOAL's winners and losers as Spain stutter into the last 16.