Controversial winner sees Japan into round of 16

  1. Japan scored a controversial winner as they staged another extraordinary World Cup comeback to top Group E ahead of Spain and reach the last 16.

Ao Tanaka claimed Japan’s second goal after the Video Assistant Referee ruled the ball had not gone out of play before substitute Kaoru Mitoma crossed from the byeline, even though on first viewing it appeared to have done so.

It proved the decisive moment in a stunning performance against a Spain side who were fortunate to join Japan in the knockout stage.

In a tournament that has been full of shocks, this was perhaps the most dramatic night so far, with Spain left relying on the result of Germany’s game with Costa Rica for them to progress.

All four teams had started the evening with a chance of progressing but with Spain needing only a draw to qualify, they were not expected to need any favours from elsewhere.

La Roja were cruising at the break after Alvaro Morata headed home Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross from close range, but Japan would quickly turn the game – and the whole of Group E – on its head.

The Samurai Blue sent on substitutes Ritsu Doan and Mitoma at half-time and within six minutes of the restart they had both made a huge impact.