AL KHOR: Germany was eliminated from the group stage of the World Cup for the second tournament in a row.
The four-time champion defeated Costa Rica 4-2 in its final group match at the Al Bayt Stadium here on Thursday, but the victory was not enough to reach the Round-of-16. Japan’s 2-1 win over Spain in the other group game allowed both of those nations to advance, with the Japanese team (6 points) finishing at the top of Group E.
Both Spain and Germany ended on four points each, but the former edged out the latter on goal difference (6 to 1). Costa Rica came last in the pool with three points.
“I was just in the changing room and as you can imagine, the disappointment is huge,” Germany head coach Hansi Flick said. Playing as the defending champion at the previous World Cup in Russia, Germany had been knocked out in the group stage.
Germany, which lost to Japan in its opening match at Qatar 2022, needed help from the other game in order to advance with a win, but things did not go its way.
If Spain had beaten Japan, the Germans would have finished second in the group.
Germany started well with Serge Gnabry putting it in front against Costa Rica with a 10th-minute header. But, Yeltsin Tejeda evened the score in the 58th minute and Manuel Neuer was credited with an own goal in the 70th, putting Costa Rica 2-1 ahead.
However, substitute Kai Havertz made it 2-2 three minutes later and then restored Germany’s lead in the 85th. Another substitute, Niclas Fullkrug, added the fourth.
See-saw battle at Al Bayt
Gnabry scored with his glancing header to put the four-time champion in front. Meanwhile, Costa Rica, which required at least a point to have a chance to progress, rarely crossed into the German half, having only about 25% possession in the first 45 minutes.
With the group standings flashing on the big screen, Germany grew nervous, with Jamal Musiala twice hitting the post early in the second half. Veteran goalkeeper Neuer could do nothing 13 minutes after the restart when Tejeda thundered the ball past him on the rebound after he had first saved a Kendall Waston header. Juan Pablo Vargas then bungled the ball over the line with help from Neuer to put Costa Rica in the lead.
‘Man of the Match’ Havertz scored twice in 12 minutes and striker Fullkrug added another, but ultimately it was too little too late for Germany.
RESULT: Costa Rica 2 (Y Tejeda 58, M Neuer 70(OG)) lost to Germany 4 (S Gnabry 10, K Havertz 73 & 85, N Fullkrug 89)