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Japan stun Germany in dramatic World Cup comeback

Japan stunned Germany 2-1 in their World Cup opener on Wednesday, punishing the four-time champions for not taking their chances after they dominated the first…

Japan stunned Germany 2-1 in their World Cup opener on Wednesday, punishing the four-time champions for not taking their chances after they dominated the first half.

The German team covered their mouths for the team photo before the match in a powerful protest against FIFA’s decision to ban rainbow-themed armbands.

Germany came to Qatar under huge pressure to avoid the disaster of 2018, when they failed to make it out of the group stage in Russia as World Cup holders.

Hansi Flick’s side took the lead through a first-half penalty from Ilkay Gundogan and should have been out of sight after creating a host of chances.

But Japan hung on and equalised through substitute Ritsu Doan in the 75th minute.

Takuma Asano then completed a remarkable turnaround eight minutes later, smashing the ball home to send the Japanese bench and their boisterous fans wild.

To add to the storyline, both Doan and Asano play in the German Bundesliga.

“The players came together as one team, we prepared well and we stuck in there, and that’s what led to the win,” said Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu.

“Lots of our fans have come to Doha and they were behind us pushing us on. I want us to keep a level head after this and look at what we could have done better and look to win the next match.”

Germany’s World Cup future is now once again on the line, with games to come in Group E against Spain and Costa Rica.

“We made it too easy for Japan. I don’t know if an easier goal has ever been scored at a World Cup,” Gundogan told Germany’s ARD TV network.

“This must not happen to us.”

Thomas Mueller told Germany’s Magenta TV it was “ludicrous that we are now standing here with a defeat.”

Japan meanwhile are eyeing a place in the knockout round after a dramatic comeback that scarcely looked possible at half-time. (AFP)