AL KHOR, Qatar - Goals from substitutes Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano in the last 15 minutes gave Japan a stunning 2-1 upset over four-times champions Germany in their World Cup Group E opener on Wednesday.
The Germans had dominated the contest at the Khalifa International Stadium and taken the lead with a 33rd minute penalty from Ilkay Guendogan after Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda had fouled wing back David Raum.
The second goal never came, however, and Japan's raids into the German half became more and more frequent, culminating in Doan's equalizer and a brilliant finish from Asano eight minutes later.
The defeat was the third in a row in the opening match of a major championship for Germany after a loss to Mexico at the 2018 World Cup, when they bowed out in the first round as champions, and to France at Euro 2020.
Croatia, runners-up at the last World Cup, were held to a 0-0 draw by Morocco at the Al Bayt Stadium on Wednesday in their opening Group F match.
From left, Morocco's Sofiane Boufal, Croatia's Mario Pasalic, and Morocco's Selim Amallah vie for the ball during the World Cup group F soccer match between Morocco and Croatia at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, Nov. 23, 2022.
The Croats, beaten by France in the 2018 final in Moscow, had the better of the chances, with Dejan Lovren having an effort cleared off the line and Nikola Vlasic's close shot saved by the legs of Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.
Morocco striker Youssef En-Nesryi might have given the north Africans an early lead but was unable to get a decent touch onto Hakim Ziyech's dangerous cross. In the second half Achraf Hakimi's powerful free kick was parried by Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic.
Belgium and Canada play at 1900GMT in Wednesday's other Group F match at Al Rayyan.