Day eight of the World Cup in Qatar has delivered another shock to the footballing world with Morocco scoring a stunning victory over Belgium, beating the Belgians 2-0 at Al Thumama Stadium and putting the Atlas Lions a step closer to qualifying for the Round of 16.
Germany has earned a crucial 1-1 draw in their exciting and energetic match against Spain after the Germans had teetered on the brink of elimination in the group stage for their second World Cup in a row. Their draw with Spain combined with Japan’s surprise loss to Costa Rica now moves the Germans into more positive territory for qualification.
And it was a surprise 1-0 win by Costa Rica over Japan in a game where Los Ticos had been mostly on the defensive until putting away a goal in the 81st minute that now keeps their qualification hopes alive.
Canada were not so lucky, as their 4-1 defeat to Croatia means they are out of the World Cup.
Here is a quick guide recapping all you need to know from day eight — Sunday, November 27 — of the Qatar World Cup 2022.
Japan vs Costa Rica
Going into their game against Costa Rica on Sunday, Japan knew they could have sealed their spot in the Round of 16 if they defeated the Costa Ricans, who had suffered a 7-0 thrashing by Spain in their first game of the tournament.
The four-time Asian champions, who stunned Germany with a 2-1 win in their Group E opener, squandered a perfect chance to advance to the tournament’s next phase.
Japan looked sluggish, static and out of ideas on how to beat a Costa Rica side that went for a rigid back-five defence to prevent goals getting past. The Samurai Blue had controlled the ball 57 percent of the match, had five corner kick opportunities and put three shots on goal, but they just could not take advantage of their domination of the pitch and play.
Then came Costa Rica’s Keysher Fuller with a surprise goal in the 81st minute that gave Los Ticos their 1-0 victory over the much favoured Japan at Al Rayyan, Qatar. Fuller’s goal was the first shot on target by Costa Rica in the match.
The loss has denied Japan a chance to move straight to the group of 16 knockout stage of the tournament.
Still bruised by their 7-0 defeat to Spain, Costa Rica now has an improbable chance to advance out of the group stage. With two matches down, Costa Rica and Japan now have three points each.
Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu said after the match that he believes his team still have a shot at the Round of 16 despite their dismal 1-0 defeat to Costa Rica.
The Samurai Blue can still qualify for the next round, but will need to pull off another feat of giant slaying when they meet Spain on Thursday, a scenario made far less likely by Sunday’s tepid showing in Al Rayyan.
“Against Spain we are going for the win and that’s what we need to focus on,” Moriyasu told a news conference.
“The next match against Spain will be a very intense game. We need to improve the odds for Japan,” Moriyasu added.
Japan have been a permanent fixture at the World Cup since debuting in 1998 and have reached the last 16 three times, more than any other Asian side.
Moriyasu said he would approach the Spain game differently and analyse how they performed against Germany in Sunday’s later Group E match.
“We have respect for them. Spain are a young team but I believe there’s a good chance we can win; with confidence, we will go for the next match.”
Belgium vs Morocco
Morocco pulled off another World Cup shock on Sunday by defeating Belgium 2-0.
Sunday’s win by Morocco was the second big upset involving an Arabic nation at the first World Cup in the Middle East. It follows Saudi Arabia’s stunning defeat of Argentina in the opening set of group games.
Morocco, roared on by thunderous noise from its fans at Al Thumama Stadium, went into the game on Sunday knowing they had started in Qatar with a promising 0-0 draw with Croatia.
But, the Atlas Lions had to make a change right before kickoff when goalkeeper Yassine Bounou felt unwell. The North Africans were unaffected and went on to clinch their first win at a World Cup since 1998 and only their third ever.
Morocco captain Romain Saiss gave his team the lead with a barely noticeable deflection off his hip after a free kick from Abdelhamid Sabiri in the 73rd minute that got under the body of the Belgian goalkeeper. Sabiri was initially credited with the goal from his free kick, but FIFA later amended the official match report to give it to Saiss.
Morocco’s Zakaria Aboukhlal guided a shot into the roof of the net off a pass from Hakim Ziyech in stoppage time to make it 2-0 as Belgium’s defence was beaten by a speedy 22-year-old forward playing at his first World Cup.
“We are delighted with that after Croatia and Belgium,” Morocco coach Walid Regragui said after the match.
“That’s absolutely outstanding for Morocco.”
Morocco has moved to four points and Croatia is also on four points after beating Canada later on Sunday. Belgium has three points, and Canada has been eliminated.
Morocco has only ever been past the group stage once at a World Cup, in 1986.
Their 2-0 win now leaves Belgium in peril of a group-stage exit at what is likely the final World Cup for a highly-talented group of Belgian players known as the ageing “Golden Generation”.
Belgium could have become the second team behind defending champion France to advance to the last 16 if it had beaten Morocco. Belgium now drops from first to third in Group F and will next play against 2018 World Cup finalist Croatia and try to avoid its earliest elimination from a World Cup since 1998.
The final group games are on Thursday, when Morocco will come back to Al Thumama Stadium to play Canada. Belgium will face Croatia at the same time.
Croatia vs Canada
Croatia scored a 4-1 victory on Sunday over Canada, who have now been eliminated after two matches at the World Cup in Qatar.
Croatia’s hackles were up going into the match after Canada coach John Herdman had said ahead of the game that his side were going to “eff” them, a pithy comment that undoubtedly supplied the script for his counterpart Zlatko Dalic’s team talk ahead of the match.
But the early stages of the contest suggested Canada were the ones who had been given the pre-match rocket and the game opened with Canada putting away the first score when Alphonso Davies headed in a goal a little more than a minute into play.
Davies, who plays for Bayern Munich, headed a cross from Tajon Buchanan just out of goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic’s reach 1 minute and 8 seconds into the game. The goal had the swath of red-shirted Canadian fans chanting “Can-a-da! Can-a-da!” at Khalifa International Stadium.
Yet it was a first half in two parts, as Croatia — thoroughly outplayed in the early stages — eventually shifted into gear. Croatia’s Andrej Kramaric appeared to score the equaliser for Croatia in the 26th minute, but he was ruled offside. His second chance counted about 10 minutes later, making it 1-1.
Marko Livaja put Croatia in front with a blast from outside the penalty box in the 44th minute, Kramaric added his second in the 70th, and Lovro Majer scored in stoppage time.
The victory moved Croatia to the top of Group F on four points. They now need only a draw in their final game on Thursday against third-placed Belgium, who are a point behind, to be guaranteed a spot in the Round of 16.
“We made a small step here but we are far from our ultimate goal,” said Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic. “Croatia demonstrated power, strength and quality and nobody is happier than me about that.”
The defeat means Canada can not advance out of the group stage.
Canada coach Herdman said the experience of Qatar had set his team in the right direction for 2026, when Canada co-hosts the World Cup with the United States and Mexico.
“I’m proud of what they achieved tonight, which was to make some history for our country,” Herdman said.
Spain vs Germany
Germany’s substitute Niclas Fullkrug’s close-range goal on Sunday was described as rescuing Germany, who took away a 1-1 draw against Spain in their World Cup Group E showdown.
The match was one of the most anticipated of this year’s World Cup tournament and a loss would not have eliminated Germany immediately, but it would have left the team in a much more difficult position to advance.
Spain had the better of the first half and looked more likely to break through with the flair and style of their younger players. The Spanish were rewarded for their efforts early in the second half when substitute Álvaro Morata put the team in the lead in the 62nd minute with a nice one-touch from close range after a well-placed low cross from teammate Jordi Alba.
Germany only threatened sporadically with a few breakaways and set pieces, but the team improved gradually and eventually, Füllkrug scored in the 83rd minute to give Germany a 1-1 draw at Al Bayt Stadium.
Germany’s fate will be decided on Thursday against Costa Rica, who defeated Japan 1-0 earlier on Sunday. But even a win may not be enough for Germany, who lost to Japan in their opener and are in last place in Group E. They need the other results to go their way.
“I hope this will give us a boost,” German coach Hansi Flick said, adding that he was satisfied with the result and his team’s attitude. “We know that this was the first step and we want to see against Costa Rica if we can craft the conditions to go through to the Round of 16.”
Spain coach Luis Enrique said the draw was not a bad result for Spain.
“We are still leaders of the group of death,” Luis Enrique said. “We still depend on ourselves and a draw will be enough against Japan, but we will try to go and win that match.”
Germany’s draw leaves Spain top of the group and needing just a single point against Japan to guarantee a spot in the final 16 of the tournament.
Germany, who lost 2-1 in their opener against Japan, are at the bottom of the table on one point.
The Germans now need to win against Costa Rica on Thursday, and their hopes then depend on Japan losing against Spain. If Japan draw with Spain on Thursday, it will all come down to goal difference.