World Cup day 8 roundup: Germany hold Spain; Croatia demolish Canada after Costa Rica & Morocco shocks

Germany could only take a point off La Roja
Germany could only take a point off La Roja / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

The heavyweights in action on day eight of the World Cup delivered in yet another eventful day of football.

Japan wanted to back up their shock victory against Germany but were downed by Costa Rica to blow Group E wide open.

Belgium followed up an unconvincing win over Canada by losing to Morocco before Croatia take on Alphonso Davies' side.

And after Costa Rica had opened up Group E earlier in the day, Germany and Spain widened it even further in Sunday's curtain closer. Alvaro Morata fired Spain ahead and had Germany staring at elimination, but Niclas Fullkrug responded to snatch a point and give everyone something to play for in matchday three.

Japan 0-1 Costa Rica

Brandon Aguilera, Bryan Ruiz, Celso Borges, Daniel Chacon
Costa Rica scored with their first shot on target this tournament / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Japan missed the opportunity to all but seal their spot in the last 16 as they were surprisingly beaten by Costa Rica.

Japan dominated throughout but struggled to create clear opportunities before Keysher Fuller Spence managed to curl one over Shuichi Gonga. The goalkeeper got a glove to the strike but couldn't keep it out.

Substitute Kaoru Mitoma was lively down the left but couldn't force an opening as Costa Rica bounced back from their 7-0 humbling from Spain to keep their World Cup hopes alive.

Three sides sit on three points each now, with Germany able to level the group playing field if they manage to beat Spain later on Sunday.

Costa Rica keep hopes alive

Costa Rica relied on some dark arts to disrupt Japan's rhythm. They couldn't put attacking phases together but did enough to keep their opponents before striking a knockout blow of their own.

Their first shot on target this World Cup resulted in their game-winning goal. Costa Rica stole possession high up the pitch as Yeltsin Tejeda fed Fuller. The 28-year-old wing back kept his composure to give Costa Rica a chance heading into the final matchday.

They will know what they need a little clearer once Spain and Germany square off on Sunday night.

Belgium 0-2 Morocco

Morocco pulled off the latest shock of this World Cup as they deservedly beat Belgium 2-0 to improve their chances of reaching the round of 16.

Belgium were themselves in a good position to ensure their passage to the next round after beating Canada in their first game, but they were woefully off the pace today and failed to lay a glove on the vastly superior North African side.

Abdelhamid Sabiri scored with an excellent free-kick, before Zakaria Aboukhlal struck in the dying moments to secure the three points.

The result leaves Group F finely poised as we turn to Canada vs Croatia next.

Jan Vertonghen
Belgium's performance felt like the end of an era / Buda Mendes/GettyImages

Belgium's 'Golden Generation' shows its age in meek defeat

So much has been made of the talent in this Belgium side over the years, but it may be time to accept that their Golden Generation is officially past its best.

Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Eden Hazard, Axel Witsel - everywhere you looked, generational Belgian talent was showing its age and allowing Morocco to seize the initiative in this match. The less said about Romelu Lukaku, the better.

Belgium could easily still reach the round of 16 - but if they want to challenge for the trophy anytime soon, they'll need to bid goodbye to a few of their elder statesmen.

Croatia 4-1 Canada

Croatia came from a goal down to demolish Canada in a convincing 4-1 win which sent their opponents out of the World Cup.

Canada took a shock early lead with their first ever World Cup goal after just one minute, Alphonso Davies arriving in the box to climb high and beat Dominik Livakovic with a powerful header.

Croatia didn't stay behind for long, however, and found themselves 2-1 up by half-time through goals from Andrej Kramaric and Marko Livaja.

Canada kept pushing for a route back into the game, but their attempts to get up the pitch resulted in them being repeatedly caught on the break and Croatia added two more goals in the second half through Kramaric and Lovro Majer.

In the end, it was a convincing win for Croatia and heartbreak for Canada as their first World Cup in 36 years came to an early end.

Steven Vitoria
It was a disappointing day for Canada / Dean Mouhtaropoulos/GettyImages

Youthful Canada come unstuck

Canada surprised a lot of neutrals during their narrow defeat to Belgium with their intense pressing and attacking intent - and they almost went one better against Croatia, scoring with their first attempt on goal after failing to find a way past Belgium's Thibaut Courtois.

Ultimately, however, Canada's youth and inexperience showed as they were punished repeatedly by a wily Croatia who know what it takes to win at this level.

Two defeats from two and an early exit feels more than a little harsh on Canada - but they showed enough in Qatar to suggest they could produce a better showing in four years' time.

Spain 1-1 Germany

Germany came from behind to snatch a point away from their game with Spain, with substitutes stealing the show at the Al Bayt Stadium.

A well-contested first half saw neither side able to take a lead into the break, despite Antonio Rudiger heading Germany in front from a free-kick; his run was correctly called as offside.

In what was a serious tactical joust, Spain moved first after the break, drawing first blood thanks to Alvaro Morata, who came up with the goods from the bench after a spell of German pressure.

Luis Enrique's side looked good after going ahead, but Hansi Flick had more to offer as the game progressed and changes of his own proved effective. Niclas Fullkrug stole the ball away from Jamal Musiala with seven minutes of normal time to play and unleashed a hellish shot beyond Unai Simon, who had no chance of saving.

A draw is far from ideal, but leaves Group E incredibly finely poised. Spain sit top with four points and play Japan in matchday three, while fourth-placed Germany on one point face Costa Rica.

If Germany can beat Costa Rica and Spain beat Japan, Die Mannschaft will make the knockout stages.

Niclas Fullkrug, Unai Simon, Aymeric Laporte
Spain almost had all three points / BSR Agency/GettyImages

Substitutes steal the spotlight

It was a story of impacts from the bench in the game of chess that was Spain vs Germany.

Enrique moved first, recognising early into the second half that his side needed a way out. He introduced Morata - Spain's only recognised striker in Qatar - and he came up with the goods after the hour mark. His run across the box was smart and his finish was even better, flicking beyond Manuel Neuer for 1-0.

Flick looked to have been outsmarted, but a handful of substitutions later in the game pulled Germany back into the contest. Fullkrug - who only earned full international honours 11 days ago - scored his second Germany goal from just three caps to snatch a point with the clock ticking down.

In a game where all the fuss was around midfielders, it took two unwanted strikers to come up with the goods.