Takuma Asano scored an 83rd-minute winner as Japan stunned four-time world champions Germany 2-1 in their opening match of the World Cup 2022.
Germany led through Ilkay Gundogan’s 33rd-minute penalty at Khalifa International Stadium on Wednesday.
Germany looked in total command in the Group E clash but, with each missed chance, left the door open for Japan, who showed almost nothing in attack until a series of substitutions injected some energy in the second half.
However, Japan hit back in quick succession, first through Ritsu Doan’s equaliser and then Asano’s late goal, to seal a historic win that came just a day after Saudi Arabia shocked Argentina.
“We have created history today!” Japan fan Kosuke told Al Jazeera, as fellow supporters exited Khalifa International Stadium waving flags.
With the loss, Germany, who were knocked out in the group stages in 2018 as reigning champions, must now fear a second straight early exit.
Kosuke said he didn’t expect his team to beat Germany but now, he added, there was no stopping the Blue Samurai.
“They will be losing their heads back home, and maybe they will get a day off tomorrow, just like Saudi Arabia,” Kosuke said with a grin on his face.
German fans, meanwhile, trudged off in silence with drooped shoulders and flags folded away.
This defeat brought flashbacks of the last World Cup campaign four years ago in Russia when Germany did not make it past the first round.
“Everything that could go wrong, went wrong for us,” German fan Thomas told Al Jazeera.
Japan go top of Group E which also features Spain and Costa Rica who meet later on Wednesday.
Germany are bottom for now. They lost their opener as in 2018 – 1-0 against Mexico – and went on to exit in the group stage as title holders.
— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) November 23, 2022
Earlier, Germany’s players covered their mouths with their right hands when they lined up for the pre-game photo in a protest against FIFA prohibiting them from using a One Love armband.
“Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position,” the team said in a statement following the protest.
Additional reporting by Hafsa Adil in Doha, Qatar