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'Annoyed' Luis Enrique admits Japan 'deserved' to win World Cup group after defeating Spain

23:19 WAT 01/12/2022
Luis Enrique Spain Japan World Cup 2022
Spain coach Luis Enrique says Japan deserved to finish first in their World Cup group after the Asian nation beat his team 2-1 on Thursday.

WHAT HAPPENED? Japan came from a goal down to win their final match of the round to book their place in the last 16 of the competition. Hajime Moriyasu's team turned the match around with two goals in quick succession as Ritsu Doan equalised three minutes after the restart and then Ao Tanaka put his team ahead shortly afterwards. The result ensures Japan go through as Group E winners and Spain go into the knockout rounds as runners-up.

WHAT THEY SAID: "There were five minutes of panic. They scored two goals against us and could have scored another two," Luis Enrique said to La1. "When a team like Japan has nothing to lose, it happens that they fly like airplanes. Then it went back to normal. The end was already very difficult, because they were very closed. Japan goes first and it is deserved. It annoys me. I wanted to be first."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: VAR played a vital intervention for Japan as their second goal was the subject of a lengthy review as it was thought the ball may have gone out of play in the build up. It was eventually decided that the whole ball had not crossed the line, though, and the goal stood. That ensured Japan went through and Germany, finishing third in the group on goal difference, went out.

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DID YOU KNOW? Spain have lost their final group stage game at the World Cup for the first time since 1982, when they lost 1-0 to Northern Ireland. They won eight of their previous nine such games before losing to Japan.

WHAT NEXT FOR SPAIN? Luis Enrique's team will meet Morocco in the next round of the tournament on December 6, while Japan will take on Croatia in the last 16.