Tuesday, December 6, 2022

World Cup: Spain hammer Costa Rica 7-0; Japan stun Germany 2-1

Spain thrashed Costa Rica 7-0 on Wednesday, their biggest ever winning margin at a World Cup, helped by two goals by Ferran Torres and strikes by five other players to send a resounding message to the rest of the teams in Qatar.
Spain were mindful of the shock defeats suffered by Argentina and Group E rivals Germany against lower opposition in their opening matches and they tormented Costa Rica from the start, going 3-0 up after little more than 30 minutes.
Dani Olmo got the goals flowing in the 11th minute when he exchanged passes with Gavi and chipped Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas. Ten minutes later, Marco Asensio timed a run into the box perfectly to connect powerfully with a Jordi Alba cross.
Torres stroked home his penalty in the 31st minute and the Barcelona winger claimed his second in the 54th when he took advantage of hesitant defending. Gavi, the youngest player to represent Spain at a World Cup, struck with a perfectly hit volley in the 74th minute before substitutes Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata rounded off a totally one-sided encounter.
Japan 2-0 Germany
Japan have provided the second major shock of the FIFA World Cup with a stunning comeback 2-1 win over Germany at the Khalifa International Stadium here on Wednesday.
The four-time world champions took a first-half lead through Ilkay Gundogan’s coolly dispatched penalty and looked likely to add to their advantage early in the second half.
However, after a couple of near misses from Serge Gnabry and goalscorer Gundogan, and a stunning series of saves from Shuichi Gonda, Japan made their move.
The Samurai Blue became increasingly adventurous as the match wore on and, having threatened Manuel Neuer’s goal on more than one occasion, pulled level with 15 minutes remaining through substitute Ritsu Doan’s opportunistic close-range finish.
A shock then turned into a sensation eight minutes later when Takuma Asano burst through on the right, amid some less-than-impressive German defending, to blast a ferocious and, ultimately, historic shot into the roof of Neuer’s net.
Stuttering Croatia held by Morocco in goalless stalemate
Croatia’s World Cup campaign got off to a stuttering start with a 0-0 draw against a battling Morocco on Wednesday as the 2018 runners-up lacked the punch and guile of the side that went so close in Russia. Chances were at a premium at Al Bayt Stadium as an even Group F contest produced little goalmouth action and ended in the third goalless draw in nine games at the World Cup so far. There were glimpses for both sides, with Nikola Vlasic going close for Croatia at the end of the first half while Noussair Mazraoui had a header saved for Morocco, but nobody could find the breakthrough as the mercury soared on an energy-sapping afternoon.
Croatia, who were beaten 4-2 by France in the final four years ago, will now turn their attentions to their game against Canada on Sunday, when Morocco will face Belgium. Canada and Belgium face off later on Wednesday.
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic was far from downcast with how his side had performed, with his only criticism that they lacked bravery to take more of the fight to their opponents.
Croatia’s best moments predictably hinged on Luka Modric, who was given the freedom of the park, floating effortlessly from back to front, with football’s traditional midfield roles seeming not to apply to Croatia’s captain.
One minute he was patrolling in front of his back four, the next hanging off the shoulder of Andrej Kramaric up front, but always looking to open up the North Africans, whether he was hovering at right back or hunting further forward.
Giroud, Mbappe help France beat Australia 4-1
France showed it can cope without its star striker at the World Cup.
Kylian Mbappe scored one and set up the second of Olivier Giroud’s two goals to help the defending champions beat Australia 4-1 Tuesday.
Giroud equaled Thierry Henry’s national record of 51 goals with a header from Mbappe’s cross in the 71st minute. Moments earlier, Mbappe headed in Ousmane Dembele’s cross from the right to start this World Cup as he finished the last — with a goal. He knelt with one hand behind his back and his finger on his forehead in a new celebration. Giroud didn’t even score at the last World Cup.
Craig Goodwin gave Australia the lead when he turned in winger Mathew Leckie’s cross in the ninth minute. France midfielder Adrien Rabiot equalized with a powerful header in the 27th and set up Giroud’s first goal shortly after. France was playing without the injured Karim Benzema, who was ruled out of the World Cup last week.

Japan’s players celebrate after winning the World Cup group E soccer match between Germany and Japan. (AP/PTI)

Thursday’s matches
Switzerland Vs Cameroon
– 3:30 pm
Uruguay Vs South Korea
– 6:30 pm
Portugal Vs Ghana
– 9:30 pm
Brazil Vs Serbia
– 12:30 am (Friday)

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