FIFA World Cup 2022: Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2 but exit in first round again

Germany played the last five minutes of regulation time and 10 of stoppage time with their fate not in their hands. They won 4-2 against Costa Rica but it didn’t matter. For the second successive World Cup, the four-time champions were going home in the first round.

That happened because Japan beat Spain 2-1 in the other game in Group E, the result taking both through to the round of 16. Spain will meet Morocco and Japan take on Croatia for berths in the quarter-finals.

Had Spain drawn, Germany would have advanced by virtue of a better goal difference over Japan.

A game Germany were in control of turned on its head when Costa Rica first neutralised Serge Gnabry’s 10th minute strike through Yeltsin Tejeda in the 58th and then, wonder of wonders, forged ahead in the 70th minute through Juan Vargas.

With Spain trailing Japan, that scoreline meant both world champions were heading home and Japan and Costa Rica were going through. It was a World Cup story you couldn’t make up.

Kai Havertz ensured one part of the story, both champions going out, didn’t happen but since Spain couldn’t equalise the other part did.

Havertz brought Germany level in the 73rd minute and put them ahead in the 85th. Before and after Havertz’s strikes Germany made raid after raid on Keylor Navas’s goal. They hit the same upright thrice, twice by Jamal Musiala who was brilliant on the night at Al Bayt Stadium, and once by Antonio Rudiger. Even if they had all gone in, Germany wouldn’t have bettered Spain’s goal difference of +4.

When the framework didn’t come to Costa Rica’s rescue, Navas did, denying Niclas Fuellkrug from being a hero for the second successive game. Fuellkrug’s blast off an excellent delivery from Havertz was taken on the face by Navas who celebrated every Costa Rican strike by closing his eyes and raising his hands in silent prayer.

Fuellkrug did get his goal, in the 89th minute, to make it 4-2 which is how the scoreline stayed till the end. Havertz had first scored with a lob over Navas to bring them level after Musiala and Fuellkrug combined to put him through on goal. He then put Germany ahead and ended the possibility off Costa Rica pulling off a Houdini act the World Cup has never seen: taking seven goals in the opener and then making the next round. That was off a Serge Gnabry delivery. It was the brilliance of Navas who denied Havettz a hattrick and then Musiala a goal he richly deserved for his industry and enterprise.

All that would have meant little beyond personal glory though. Costa Rica finished on the bottom of the group after briefly being in second place but will be proud of how they came back the hiding against Spain to beat Japan and then give Germany a mighty scare. Germany ended third, a position that should call for a reboot of the kind they had in the early years of this millennium.

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