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How the Group E rollercoaster changed over 90 minutes

Japan won Group E and will play Croatia next. There’s a matchup between Spain and Morocco.

Spain and Germany, who beat Costa Rica 4-2 in the exact match, both had four points. Despite that, Spain had a better goal differential.

During both matches, the group standings changed. At one point, Costa Rica beat Germany. Spain would have been eliminated if that result stood.

Japan came from behind to beat another European powerhouse and reach the knockout stage for the second straight time. Back-to-back tournaments are the first time Japan has advanced past the group stage.

The following timeline illustrates the events:

Germany knows only victory will do, and Serge Gnaby gives Hansi Flick’s team the perfect start.

With four points, the Germans have leapfrogged Costa Rica.

11 mins: Is it an easy night for the Europeans? As long as Alvaro Morata scores, Spain will win Group E.

Halftime: Nothing to see. Germany and Spain were both leading at halftime.

48 mins: Japan equalizes – Ritsu Doan, who assisted against Germany eight days ago, scores through Unai Simon.

Japan returns to second place, ahead of Germany on the head-to-head record, as both sides have four points, the same goal difference, and the same goals scored.

51 mins: Japan leads. Lightning strikes twice. Hajime Moriyasu’s team turned around a deficit against four-time champions Germany in three minutes with Ao Tanaka’s close-range prod and overcame their deficit.

On four points, Japan leads Group E, with Spain and Germany separated by goal difference.

58 mins: Costa Rica draws level. Following Yeltsin Tejeda’s strike, the team that shipped seven goals to Spain has shown its mettle again.

There’s a goal difference gap between Costa Rica and Spain, and Germany is fourth.

70 mins: Costa Rica leads! When you thought things couldn’t get worse for Germany, Manuel Neuer scores their own goal.

It’s time for the unthinkable. Costa Rica climbs to second in Group E behind Japan.

There’s no more mighty pair than Spain and Germany.

73 mins: Germany’s all square. Flick’s team equalizes, thanks to Kai Havertz.

Germany still has a long way to go. Japan is way away from six points, with two points. While Costa Rica and Spain are tied with four points, Spain has returned to the World Cup almost as quickly as they had been eliminated.

85 mins: Germany retake the lead: Havertz scores his second of the game to swing the scoreline back towards his side.

The Germans have returned to four points, level with Spain. Costa Rica is the bottom-dweller with three points. Six-point Japan cannot be moved from the summit.

89 mins: Germany scores the fourth goal. After Niclas Fullkrug’s second tournament goal, we are in the driver’s seat.

German eyes are focused on Khalifa International Stadium, hoping desperately that Spain will equalize so that the 2014 winners can advance on goal difference.

90+8 mins: Japan wins. Following the final whistle, Japan has completed one of the most remarkable achievements in modern international football, finishing ahead of Germany and Spain after beating both European nations just one week earlier.

90+11 mins: Germany wins 4-2, the same scoreline as in the opening game of the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Flick’s disconsolate men are unable to accept it on this occasion. Although Germany responded admirably to Japan’s defeat, a draw with Spain and this goal-laden victory were insufficient to secure third place.

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