Japan, on Thursday, stunned Spain, 2-1, to emerge winner of Group E and proceed to the World Cup last 16. Spain in spite of the loss staggered through to the World Cup last 16 with four-time champions Germany eliminated.
For a few heart-stopping minutes Spain was poised to head out when Costa Rica was leading in the other game, but the 2010 champions squeezed through after Germany did them a favour by coming back to beat Los Ticos.
Spain and Germany ended on four points each, but La Roja, the Spanish team progressed on goal difference.
Alvaro Morata sent Spain ahead early on with a towering header, but Japan dramatically struck back at the start of the second half.
Ritsu Doan and Ao Tanaka’s goals saw them mount a sensational comeback, just as they did against Germany.
Tanaka’s goal was highly controversial after the officials relied on VAR to decide Kaoru Mitoma had kept the ball in play by a hair’s breadth to set him up.
Spain struggled to create chances against a staunch Japanese defence in the final stages, with the Asian side aware that conceding another goal would see them eliminated.
Japanese players collapsed at full-time in celebration, exhausted and satisfied, while the substitutes raced on to celebrate.
Spain will face Morocco in the last 16, while Japan play Croatia.