Japan 2-1 Spain: Player ratings as stunning comeback victory sends Samurai Blue top

Tom Gott
A stunning result for Japan
A stunning result for Japan / Buda Mendes/GettyImages

Japan stunned Spain with an outstanding 2-1 comeback victory that fired the Samurai Blue to the top of Group E and knocked Germany out of the World Cup.

Alvaro Morata headed home an opener in a dominant first half but a quickfire double after the break, with goals from Ritsu Doan and Ao Tanaka, flipped the entire group on its head.

Sergio Busquets thundered over the bar early on before almost giving away a goal at the other end straight after. A sloppy touch from the midfielder put Japan in on goal but Junya Ito's shot flew into the side netting.

Spain's lead came 11 minutes in through Morata, who rose highest to meet a Cesar Azpilicueta cross and head home.

La Roja prevented Japan from getting back into the game by simply holding possession, with the stats showing they sat at nearly 80% half an hour in, and that rose to 83% by the end of what was a one-sided first 45 minutes.

Just three minutes into the second half, however, Japan tied it up out of nowhere with a thunderous strike from substitute Doan, whose powerful strike from the edge of the box was too much for Unai Simon.

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Almost straight after, it was 2-1. Tanaka tapped home an effort which was initially ruled out after the ball looked to have gone out of play in the build-up, but VAR overruled the decision and gave the goal.

Spain pushed and pushed for an equaliser and perhaps should have had one later on as Dani Olmo found some space in the box, but his tame effort was easily saved by Shuichi Gonda.

In the end, however, Spain rarely tested the Japan stopper and had to settle for second place in the group.

Japan player ratings

Kaoru Mitoma, Ferran Torres
A sensational cameo from Mitoma / Buda Mendes/GettyImages

GK: Shuichi Gonda - 6/10 - Couldn't do a lot about the goal but made some nice saves otherwise.

CB: Ko Itakura - 6/10 - Lost his marker for Morata's opener but made up for it with a nice block.

CB: Maya Yoshida - 7/10 - Unfortunate to get booked for a 'foul' on Morata but couldn't really keep up with the striker anyway. Looked far stronger after Morata went off.

CB: Shogo Taniguchi - 7/10 - Chasing shadows in the first half but recovered very well after the break.

RM: Junya Ito - 8/10 - Not involved in the first half but a monsterous performance after the break.

CM: Hidemasa Morita - 6/10 - Some nice challenges but not strong enough with his passes.

CM: Ao Tanaka - 8/10 - A frenzy of attacking flair after the break and scored the second goal.

LM: Yuto Nagatomo - 2/10 - Hooked at half-time after a thoroughly underwhelming first half.

RW: Daichi Kamada - 4/10 - Found it hard to get involved and was sacrificed on the hour mark to protect the lead.

ST: Daizen Maeda - 5/10 - Found it hard to get involved on the ball but his off-the-ball work was sensational. Great pressing.

LW: Takefusa Kubo - 2/10 - Barely involved at all in his 45-minute showing.


SUB: Ritsu Doan (46' for Kubo) - 8/10 - Immediately injected quality. Fortunate for his goal but deserved the luck.

SUB: Kaoru Mitoma (46' for Nagatomo) - 8/10 - Dropped deep to help out defensively and looked a major threat whenever he got forward.

SUB: Takuma Asano (62' for Maeda) - 5/10 - Looked a bit lost in the ocean of Spanish attacks. Should've killed the game off.

SUB: Takehiro Tomiyasu (68' for Kamada) - 7/10 - Really strong when it mattered most.

SUB: Wataru Endo (87' for Tanaka) - N/A

Manager: Hajime Moriyasu - 7/10 - Did he get his starting lineup wrong? Who cares. Excellent substitutions and clearly the perfect team talk.

Spain player ratings

Sergio Busquets
Busquets looked nervy / Fantasista/GettyImages

GK: Unai Simon - 5/10 - Nervy with the ball at his feet and caught once or twice.

RB: Cesar Azpilicueta - 7/10 - The Chelsea connection with Morata was there with the exact sort of goal Azpilicueta assisted time and time again in the 2017/18 season.

CB: Rodri - 6/10 - Completed more passes than the entire Japan team in the first half.

CB: Pau Torres - 6/10 - Also matched Rodri's passing numbers but wasn't as efficient. Took a few too many risks at times.

LB: Alejandro Balde - 6/10 - Constantly involved in Spain's best moments but didn't forget his defensive duties either.

DM: Sergio Busquets - 5/10 - A few nervy moments at the base of midfield. Fortunate not to be punished directly.

CM: Gavi - 6/10 - Completely dominant on the ball in the first half but faded away after the break.

CM: Pedri - 7/10 - The star of the first half but lost his grip on proceedings after the goals went in.

RW: Nico Williams - 6/10 - A few nice moves down the right wing. Looked a real threat when on the ball.

ST: Alvaro Morata - 8/10 - An absolute clinic in movement. Some of his runs were exquisite and he took his goal with real ease.

LW: Dani Olmo - 7/10 - In full control of the first half. Pulled the strings as he looked for the killer ball.


SUB: Dani Carvajal (46' for Azpilicueta) - 4/10 - The legs look to have gone. Looked off the pace immediately.

SUB: Ferran Torres (57' for Williams) - 5/10 - Hugged the touchline and fired crosses into the striker that went off as soon as he came on.

SUB: Marco Asensio (57' for Morata) - 5/10 - Couldn't find space among Japan's deep defensive line.

SUB: Jordi Alba (68' for Balde) - 5/10 - Struggled in his battle against Tomiyasu.

SUB: Ansu Fati (68' for Gavi) - 5/10 - Didn't make the impact he needed to.

Manager: Luis Enrique - 4/10 - Bizarre to take off Morata in search of a goal, especially when the crosses kept coming in.

Player of the match - Kaoru Mitoma