World Cup 2022 in review: Day 12 - Unbelievable drama as Germany and Belgium both bow out

A daily report from the 2022 World Cup, reviewing the day’s matches, saves, goals, gaffes and moments of magic from Qatar.

By James Descombes Published: 1 December 2022 - 9.45pm
Japan

There was lots of drama on Day 12 of the World Cup. Japan went through in Group E at the expense of Germany, while Belgium bowed out after failing to beat Croatia. 

Here's how it all unfolded...

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The day’s results

Croatia 0-0 Belgium

Canada 1-2 Morocco

Japan 2-1 Spain

Costa Rica 2-4 Germany

Match summaries

Croatia 0-0 Belgium

Belgium are out of the World Cup. Croatia will play Japan in the Round of 16 after finishing second in Group F.

The first half was poor, with very little from either team, but particularly from Belgium who needed to win the match.

Croatia did create a chance within 10 seconds, with a nice passing move from the kick off culminating in a long pass from Luka Modric up to Ivan Perisic on the edge of the box. The Tottenham player's shot nearly nestled in the far corner. If it went in it would've been the fastest goal in World Cup history. 

Belgium's first big chance came in the 13th-minute when a fast break gave Kevin De Bruyne the chance to look up and play in Dries Mertens whose first-time effort flew over the bar.

The big controversy of the half came a couple of minutes later, when a Croatia freekick into the box led to a foul from Yannick Carrasco on Andrej Kramaric.

Modric stepped up to take the penalty, but while preparing for his spot kick English referee Anthony Taylor was called over to the monitor to rule on an offside decision. The penalty was overturned even though the VAR image of the offside wasn't particulary conclusive. 

The second half began at breakneck speed, with Romelu Lukaku on for Mertens. And Belgium's record scorer didn't waste any time causing a nuisance in the Croatian box, heading a shot weakly at Dominik Livaković.

Croatia followed that with three shots for Thibaut Courtois to deal with. His first stop came from Mateo Kovačić, as his drive headed towards the top corner. Then the Belgian keeper had to get down low to save from a Marcelo Brozović shot on the edge of the area, before palming away Modric's low and curling effort. 

The game swung from end to end and Belgium were next up to have a big chance. This time De Bruyne's ball into the box was gathered by Yannick Carrasco who controlled and dribbled well before Josip Juranović could get in a block, but the rebound fell kindly to Lukaku who looked odds on to score. But he blasted his shot against the inside of the post.

Two minutes later De Bruyne again supplied an assist, crossing in from the byline to Lukaku who headed over an open goal, though the ball looked as if it had crossed the line before De Bruyne's delivery. 

With under five minutes left Lukaku had another opportunity, but he didn't know much about this one as Thomas Meunier put too much pace on his pass and it deflected wide from inside the six-yard area. 

And it got worse for the Inter striker. With seconds left of the 90 Thorgan Hazard's cross just needed to be nodded in, but Lukaku wasn't alert and the ball hit him from a couple of yards out and Livaković gratefully collected the ball.

Romelu Lukaku missed a number of chances in the second half as Belgium crashed out of the World Cup

Canada 1-2 Morocco

Morocco won Group F and will play Spain in the Round of 16. 

Morocco didn't waste any time in trying to wrap up their spot in the next round. They put the pressure on from kick-off, but were handed a gift four minutes in when Canada's captain, goalkeeper Milan Borjan, went to clear a pass-back on the edge of his area and just passed it straight to Hakim Ziyech. The Chelsea midfielder simply knocked it into an empty net to give Morocco an early 1-0 lead.

The Atlas Lions continued to attack with Ziyech and Sofiane Boufal trying their luck from range. Then in the 23rd minute Morocco doubled their lead. 

A ball upfield from Achraf Hakimi was taken well by Youssef En-Nesyri who pushed aside his defenders to smash the ball past Borjan. 

It was all looking pretty straightforward for Morocco heading towards half-time, but in the 40th-minute we saw the first own-goal of the tournament. 

A good run from Sam Adekugbe ended with his ball into the box, which West Ham defender Nayef Aguerd tried to cut out with his stretched leg but ended up defelcting past his own keeper, Yassine Bounou, at the near post.

Youssef En-Nesyri thought he'd restored Morocco's two-goal cushion before the break, volleying in from a freekick into the box, but it was disallowed because Aguerd was stood offside in front of the keeper.

The second half provided far fewer chances than the first, but Canada nearly snatched an equaliser with 20 minutes left when 39-year-old Atiba Hutchinson headed a Junior Hoilett corner against the underside of the bar. The ball then bounced up off the goal line and Alistair Johnston wasn't able to bundle the ball over the line with his header.

Youssef En-Nesyri became the first Moroccan player to score at two World Cups

Japan 2-1 Spain

Despite Japan's high-energy running, Spain's passing wore them down. After half-an-hour Spain had 79% possession. Japan's only hope seemingly coming from the occasional sloppy Spanish pass. 

After seven minutes Japan pressed and latched onto a loose pass from Sergio Busquets in the box. Ao Tanaka found Junya Ito, but he could only find the side netting.

Shortly after Spain capitalised on all their possession, and it was a straightforward goal with César Azpilicueta lofting a ball up to Alvaro Morata who headed in from close range to get his third goal in three games. Morata almost got his second of the match midway through the half, but his shot was easily saved by Shūichi Gonda.

There was no hanging about at the start of the second half for Japan. As in the first-half, Spain's goalkeeper Unai Simón was remarkably casual on the ball. His kick out was quickly closed down and Ritsu Doan unleashed a shot from the edge of the box that Simón should've dealt with, but palmed into his net.

And moments later Japan took the lead when Ao Tanaka bundled in from close range. There was a long VAR check as it looked like the ball had crossed the line before being cut back, but it was given and Japan led 2-1. 

Japan showed great defensive grit and determination to hold on, with Spain creating few clear-cut chances besides a Dani Olmo effort that lacked power inside the area, which Gonda gathered easily. 

Japan go through to the Round of 16 as Group E winners where they will face Croatia. Spain finish as runners up and will play Morocco.

VAR said the ball wasn't completely out of play

Costa Rica 2-4 Germany

Costa Rica's game plan appeared to be to sit behind the ball in the first half, despite the fact they needed a win to progress. 

Germany took the invite to attack from start to finish, with Jamal Musiala forcing a save from Keylor Navas after just two minutes.

Thomas Muller should've done much better with a free header five minutes later when he found himself on the end of a Joshua Kimmich cross inside the box. But he misdirected his effort well wide.

It wasn't to matter because a couple of minutes later Serge Gnabry showed him how it's done, guiding his header into the far corner from a David Raum cross.

And the Germans kept coming. Leon Goretzka's close-range header was saved well down low and a couple of mazy Musiala dribbles in the box were promising but lacked finishes. 

After 30 minutes Costa Rica had their first sniff of goal, but Joel Campbell couldn't connect with Bryan Oviedo's good cross into the box.

With half-time approaching Gnabry curled a shot just wide of the upright, before Costa Rica almost executed the perfect first-half smash and grab. 

A long ball from the back was met by hesistation in the German defence, with Antonio Rudiger the last man. Keysher Fuller nicked the ball past the Madrid defender and went one-on-one with Manuel Neuer, but the German captain threw up his hands to tip the powerful shot over the bar.

Germany continued to put pressure on the Costa Rican defence in the second half, but on 58 minutes the unthinkable happened. 

Costa Rica broke down the right and the ball into the box was met by a Kendall Waston diving header. Neuer blocked the effort, but the ball fell to Yeltsin Tejeda who buried it from close range.

Germany tried to fire back fast. Musiala drove into the box and hit his strike against the inside of the far post, before Rudiger hit the post from five yards out following a Kimmich cross. And Germany hit the post for a third time when Musiala curled a shot from outside the box on 66 minutes. 

The game got even crazier with 20 minutes to go when Costa Rica took the lead. A freekick from the left was bundled in by Juan Pablo Vargas amid chaos in the six-yard box.

At this point both Germany and Spain were heading out of the World Cup, but Costa Rica's lead didn't last long. 

Three minutes later substitute Kai Havertz dinked his shot over Navas after Niclas Füllkrug prodded the ball into the box. 

And Füllkrug should've given Germany the lead with 15 minutes left when he connected to a Leroy Sane ball into the box, but sent his effort crashing against the bar. 

With little over five minutes left of the 90, supersub Havertz got his second goal. Gnabry played a whipped ball into the box and Havertz ghosted in at the back post to side-foot home from six-yards out. 

Füllkrug then put some gloss on the result, finishing from six-yards out from another Sane assist, but with Japan beating Spain, Germany are going home.  

Germany are out of the World Cup despite beating Costa Rica

Goal of the day

Youssef En-Nesyri - Morocco

Achraf Hakimi played a ball up the line from his own half, which En-Nesyri gathered and controlled well from just outside the penalty box. The two defenders either side of him couldn't get close enough and En-Nesyri fired home low and hard past the Canadian keeper. 

Save of the day

Manuel Neuer - Germany

Just before the break Keysher Fuller found himself one-on-one with the veteran keeper. His fierce shot looked destined to hit the back of the net, but replays showed that Neuer's fingertips helped the ball over the bar, preventing Costa Rica from an undeserved equaliser.

Manuel Neuer made a great save at 0-0

Player of the day

Josko Gvardiol - Croatia

The RB Leipzig centre-back, donning his full face mask, was a rock at the back for Croatia as they held Belgium to a 0-0 draw.

The Belgians needed to win the match and threw everything at it. In the second half Romelu Lukaku had a number of good opportunities, one of which produced one of the tackles of the tournament - from Gvardiol. 

In the 92nd minute it looked as if Lukaku was destined to score, but Gvardiol threw himslef at the ball and touched it away from the Belgian striker, securing Croatia's progress to the knockout stage.

Magic moments

 
  • Stéphanie Frappart became the first female referee at a World Cup, and was joined by her assistants Neuza Back and Karen Diaz - becoming the first female trio at a World Cup too. 
 
  • Moroccan players celebrated qualification to the knockout stages by praying in front of their fans and launching their manager, Walid Regragui, into the air. 
 
  • Keylor Navas slid to prevent a corner, but the ball was clearly a foot over the line. The lineswoman bafflingly waved play on. 
 
  • VAR dominated the debate about Japan's win over Spain - which sent Germany home.

Quote of the day

Roberto Martinez steps down as Belgium manager after his side is knocked out of the World Cup:

"That was my last game with the national team and it was emotional as you can imagine.

"I was going to stop anyway, whatever happened, even if we had become world champions. I made that decision just before the World Cup."

Image of the day

Romelu Lukaku was in tears at the end after missing chances to send Belgium through

Said on social

Upcoming fixtures

Friday 2 December: 

Group H: South Korea vs Portugal - 3pm KO

Group H: Ghana vs Uruguay - 3pm KO

Group G: Serbia vs Switzerland - 7pm KO

Group G: Cameroon vs Brazil - 7pm KO