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Germany have once again been knocked out of the FIFA World Cup at the group stages, despite beating Costa Rica 4-2 on Thursday evening.
The win proved to not be enough for Hansi Flick’s side as Japan beat Spain 2-1 to book their place in the knockout rounds.
As expected, Germany took the game to Costa Rica early with Jamal Musiala forcing Keylor Navas into a smart save inside the opening two minutes.
The first real chance of the game would fall to Thomas Muller six minutes later. Found unmarked by a brilliant looping Joshua Kimmich cross, the Bayern forward was unable to get his resulting header on target when he really should have.
One minute later a header did find it’s way into the back of the net through Leroy Sane. The former Man City man flicked a David Raum cross from the left flank into the bottom right hand corner of the net. A great header and no less than what Germany deserved.
Germany would create yet another headed opportunity in the 15th minute when Leon Goretzka burst into the box to latch onto an Ilkay Gundogan cross. Navas, this time, however was on hand to palm the effort on goal clear of danger.
The game continued in a similar vein thereafter as Costa Rica continued to defend every single open play situation as if it was a corner kick – i.e. at least three defenders in their own six-yard box at all times.
At the end of the half, the Germans would create a few more chances to double their advantage. First a mazy run from Musiala culminated in the youngster firing just wide of the post, then his international and club teammate did the same a few minutes later – Cruyff-turning his way around a Costa Rica defender before curling wide.
Amazingly, it was nearly 1-1 in the 42nd minute after some horrid defending from Antonio Rudiger. Keysher Fuller latched onto the ball after Rudiger sliced a clearance back toward his own goal, but the Costa Rica wide player saw his subsequent shot on goal well saved by Manuel Neuer.
With Japan coming from behind to lead Spain 2-1 in the other game, Germany attempted to throw the kitchen sink at Costa Rica by bringing on Niclas Fullkrug.
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Instead of adding to their lead though, they ended up conceding. The goal would be scored by Yeltsin Tejeda, who stole in to side-foot home after Neuer failed to adequately save a Kendall Waston header.
Moments later Germany went up the other end and came so close to equalising through Musiala and then Rudiger. Musiala burst into the left of the penalty area and slammed the ball off of the inside of the post, then a minute later Rudiger hit the outside of the post with a shot from inside the six-yard box.
In the 65th minute Germany managed to do it again. That’s right, they hit the post for a third time. This time it was Musiala who curled the ball off of the post from just outside the box.
Then it happened.
COSTA RICA scored another.
And it might have been the scrappiest goal in World Cup history. The central American side won three headers from a set piece, with the final header from Juan Pablo Vargas from four yards out bouncing off Neuer’s feet, back off Vargas’s back and into the net.
Costa Rica’s time in the top two places in the table would end about 30 seconds later as Germany finally scored a second, with substitute Kai Havertz latching onto a flick on before chipping over Navas and into the back of the net.
In the 75th minute, Hansi Flick’s men were denied a third by a stunning Keylor Navas save. The former Real Madrid goalkeeper got across his line brilliant to block a Fullkrug shot from point-blank range with his face.
Havertz would make it 3-2 in the 85th minute, latching onto a great cross from Gnabry to side-foot into the net.
Soon after it was 4-2 as Fullkrug tapped home after Sane found him with a deft chested pass into his path, but it wasn’t enough as Japan held on against Spain and knocked Flick’s men out.
GK: Keylor Navas – 7/10 – Made a stunning save later in the game.
CB: Oscar Duarte – 6/10 – Battled hard throughout, particularly when Germany crossed into the box.
CB: Kendall Waston – 7/10 – He basically stood on his own goal line for the first half, then ended up being the catalyst for the equalising goal in the second.
CB: Juan Pablo Vargas – 7/10 – Scored the second goal in the scrappiest way imaginable.
RM: Keysher Fuller – 5/10 – Missed Costa Rica’s only chance of the first half.
CM: Celso Borges – 6/10 – Work extremely hard for his side off the ball.
CM: Yeltsin Tejeda – 7/10 – Scored his first ever international goal at the best possible time.
LM: Bryan Oviedo – 6/10 – The former Sunderland and Everton man did quite well defensively on his flank.
RW: Brandon Aguilera – N/A – He did literally nothing and was subbed off at half-time.
ST: Johan Venegas – 5/10 – Worked hard for his side, but didn’t really add any quality.
LW: Joel Campbell – 6/10 – The out ball for Costa Rica, and a pretty effective one at that.
SUB – Youstin Salas – 6/10 – Offered far more than Aguilera, though that’s not saying an awful lot.
SUB – Jewison Bennette – 5/10
SUB – Ronald Matarrita – 5/10
SUB – Roan Wilson – N/A.
SUB – Anthony Contreras – N/A.
Manager – Luis Fernando Suarez – 5/10 – There’s not an awful lot you can do when there’s such a gulf in quality, is there? Still, his side battled gallantly against a side clearly far too good for Costa Rica.
GK: Manuel Neuer – 3/10 – He should’ve done much better for both goals. Looked his age.
RB: Joshua Kimmich – 4/10 – Used at right-back and central midfield, but didn’t move the ball as quick as he should’ve in either position.
CB: Niklas Sule – 2/10 – Let’s call a spade a spade: a literal spade would’ve been a better defender than Sule has been at this World Cup.
CB: Antonio Rudiger – 3/10 – Almost cost his team a goal with a disastrous attempted clearance in the first half, and didn’t improve much after that.
LB: David Raum – 6/10 – Lovely cross to set up the opening goal of the game.
CM: Leon Goretzka – 5/10 – Subbed off at half time.
CM: Ilkay Gundogan – 4/10 – Didn’t do a whole lot and was subbed off in favour of a striker in the 55th minute.
RM: Serge Gnabry – 7/10 – Did really well to flick Raum’s cross into the back of the net and set up the third.
AM: Jamal Musiala – 7/10 – Really lively once again and hit the post twice.
LM: Leroy Sane – 5/10 – He wasn’t great but did get an assist.
ST: Thomas Muller – 2/10 – Missed a great chance inside the opening five minutes and was generally bad.
SUB: Lukas Klostermann – 5/10 – Did ok when he came on.
SUB: Niclas Fullkrug – 7/10 – Denied a goal by the brilliant Keylor Navas, and then got his goal late on.
SUB: Mario Gotze – 5/10
SUB – Kai Havertz – 8/10 – Scored Germany’s second and third goals. Really great cameo performance.
SUB – Matthias Ginter – N/A.
SUB – Hansi Flick – 5/10 – Probably should have started Fullkrug up front, though his changes did get Germany back into the game. Pretty unacceptable to lead a team with such quality to a group stage exit.
Player of the match: Kai Havertz
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