Costa Rica 2 – 4 Germany
Japan’s 2-1 win against Spain would have eliminated Germany anyway, but Hansi Flick’s side needed three points to give themselves any chance of reaching the last 16.
They completed their part of the bargain, but it was to no avail as the four-time champions finished third in the group and were eliminated on goal difference.
Germany were in complete control and in front through Serge Gnabry’s 10th-minute header, only for Costa Rica to turn the match on its head to raise the remarkable possibility of Spain also going out.
Yeltsin Tejeda equalised after Germany keeper Manuel Neuer pushed out Kendall Waston’s header in the 58th minute, before Juan Pablo Vargas bundled in a second 12 minutes later.
At that stage, Costa Rica were going through with Japan, and Spain were heading for the exit.
It would have capped one of the most astonishing nights in World Cup history, but Germany substitute Kai Havertz restored a measure of normality to proceedings with two clinical finishes to extinguish Costa Rica’s hopes of springing a major shock.
Substitute Niclas Fullkrug added a last-minute fourth to confirm victory, but it will be of no consolation as Germany failed to reach the knockout stage of the tournament for the second time in succession. This was also a match that made history as an all-female officiating team took charge of a men’s World Cup game for the first time, with France’s Stephanie Frappart refereeing, joined by assistant referees Neuza Back from Brazil and Karen Diaz Medina from Mexico.
Shocked Germany a fallen power
Germany’s second successive exit at the group stage will come as another shock to their system and they can have no complaints as they leave Qatar.
The skids were under their campaign when they lost 2-1 to Japan in their opener and, despite showing real character to come from behind to draw 1-1 with Spain, the first-game defeat left them vulnerable.
A Germany win looked a formality as they controlled the first half hour with embarrassing ease and led through Gnabry’s strike.
Costa Rica were overpowered but Germany’s complacency gave them an entry into the game and suddenly it was they who looked like qualifying as they went ahead, although it did not last long.
Germany have some fine players in the brilliant Jamal Musiala, along with Bayern Munich’s former Manchester City winger Leroy Sane, but this World Cup may spell the end for the older generation such as goalkeeper Neuer and forward Thomas Muller.
There is certainly likely to be a lengthy inquest into another failure at the finals.
Source – BBC