Japan beat Spain 2-1 thanks to Ao Tanaka's winning goal from a Kaoru Mitoma cut-back which initially appeared to have gone out of play; a lengthy VAR check ruled in favour of Japan, the full curvature of the ball not deemed to have crossed the line; the result knocked out Germany
Friday 2 December 2022 23:45, UK
FIFA has confirmed Japan's controversial winning goal against Spain on Thursday was correctly awarded.
Japan came from a goal down to beat Spain 2-1, with the victory being secured by Ao Tanaka, who turned in Kaoru Mitoma's cut-back despite the ball initially appearing to have gone out of play.
A lengthy VAR check followed the goal but it sensationally ruled in favour of Japan, with the full curvature of the ball not deemed to have crossed the line.
Japan's victory not only meant they finished top of Group E and Spain placed second, but confirmed Germany - who beat Costa Rica 4-2 in a thriller - were eliminated at the group stage for the second successive World Cup.
Graeme Souness called upon FIFA to release conclusive evidence that the ball had stayed in play - and the governing body did so on Friday afternoon, tweeting: "Japan's second goal in their 2-1 win over Spain was checked by VAR to determine if the ball had gone out of play.
"The video match officials used the goalline camera images to check if the ball was still partially on the line or not.
"Other cameras may offer misleading images but on the evidence available, the whole of the ball was not out of play.
Speaking on ITV immediately after full-time, Souness said: "There are 80 million Germans right now going mad, waiting for a picture that shows that ball didn't go out of play.
"Germany is not a small footballing nation. Why would you create confusion and not want to clear it up immediately?
"Why are FIFA not showing us something that is so controversial? Why aren't they showing it to us? Clear it up for us, please."
The on-field officials initially disallowed the goal, deeming the ball to have gone out, and despite initial replays appearing to back them up, VAR ruled that it should count, an aerial view later showing the ball had in fact not fully crossed the line.
Sky Sports' Gary Neville questioned why television audiences were not shown all the angles of Japan's winning goal afterwards.
"The high cam that is on the line does suggest that there might be some of the ball over the line," he said on ITV.
"But from that very first offside goal, Ecuador vs Qatar in game one, I've struggled with it a little bit that we've not been given the correct angles. It just doesn't feel right.
"In the Premier League we see all the VAR cameras. Here, we don't."
Thomas Muller, 33, who may have played his last international match for Germany, was left in disbelief at how their World Cup campaign had ended.
"It's an absolute disaster! I don't know what happens next. If this was my last game, then I would like to say a few words to the German football fans. It was an enormous pleasure, dear people," a tearful Muller told ARD.
"We experienced great moments. I tried to leave my heart on the court in every game.
"It is unbelievably bitter for us because our result would have been enough. It's a feeling of powerlessness."
Germany suffered a second consecutive World Cup group-stage exit after losing to Japan, drawing with Spain and beating Costa Rica - but boss Hansi Flick was not prepared to blame their early departure on the controversial VAR decision.
"There are so many reasons but I am not looking for excuses," he said. "In the first half I was disappointed and very angry at my team and how we allowed the opponent to come back.
"We wanted to score three or four goals in the first half but then we made mistakes. If we had converted those chances, 16 of them.
"But the tournament was not decided today for us. We did not have any efficiency at this tournament and that is why we were eliminated."
On whether he will resign, Flick added: "We'll work that out quickly, it's difficult to answer now right after the game when we're eliminated. We'll see about that soon."
On Japan's second goal, manager Hajime Moriyasu, speaking through an interpreter, said: "We were just playing to win. We think that our intensity materialised as a goal.
"Whether the ball was out or not, there is great technology nowadays for big football (matches).
"If it was really out, it would have been a goal kick, but the judgement of the referee was it was in.
"We respected it, but we were willing to respect either way. The final judgement was it was in."