These images fuel doubts about Japan’s winning goal

War the ball out before the Japanese winning goal or not? The decisive cross from Kaoru Mitoma to Ao Tanaka was a matter of millimeters. Even after viewing the video images and photos, those involved were still unsure. “On the video scoreboard I had the feeling that the ball was out of bounds,” said Spain centre-back Pau Torres: “But the VAR is not there without a reason”.

Spain coach Luis Enrique was downright irritated by the images circulating on the internet. “I saw a picture that must have been manipulated. This cannot be the real picture. It must have been rigged,” Enrique said just after midnight in the press conference room at ar-Rayyan’s Chalifa International Stadium.

at Twitter commented on photos in which it looked as if Kaoru Mitoma put the ball well past the line into the middle, where Ao Tanaka shot in to make it 2-1. A bit of green on the turf can be seen in these pictures between the goal line and the ball – however, the question of whether the ball is outside the field is not relevant to its contact area, but that it has completely crossed the line.

Referee Victor Gomes of South Africa stood on the pitch for several minutes waiting for Mexican video assistant Fernando Guerrero’s review to be over. Then Gomes gave the goal that was originally denied, that Japan ended up winning the group and giving Germany an early World Cup exit. “It was half off for me, but I couldn’t really see it. If he spent it and didn’t count the goal, I would have accepted it and wouldn’t have been disappointed,” said goalscorer Tanaka.

His coach was also diplomatic. “Nowadays there is great technology on the big football stage,” said Hajime Moriyasu, “and if the ball was really out of bounds, it wouldn’t have counted. The referee decided the ball was in and we respected that. But we were willing to accept it either way.”

Close-up: the ball just before the cross to the goal

Close-up: the ball just before the cross to the goal

Image: picture alliance/dpa/AP

“It’s a millimeter decision. If I see it that way, I would say that’s okay,” said the TV expert Almuth Schult in the evening on ARD. Unlike the goal line, there is no automatic technical aid for the outer goal line. It was therefore one of the longest video reviews at this tournament. Gomes didn’t watch the scene himself on the monitor, but heard the decision over the ear.

Meanwhile, Japan’s next big football coup at the World Cup in Qatar has also excited the local population. Despite the unfavorable kick-off time (4 a.m. local time in Tokyo), numerous people celebrated the triumph on Friday night Spain and the group win. “I can’t put it into words. It was great,” said captain Maya Yoshida, who plays for FC Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga and was an important pillar in the curious World Cup preliminary round in the victories over Germany and Spain.

The sports newspaper “Nikkan Sports” immediately produced a special edition to report on the unexpected success. These could be obtained from printers in so-called convenience stores across the country, which are open 24 hours a day and can be found at almost every crossroads. Also on the world famous crossing in the Tokyoite Scene district Shibuya, the fans poured out of the bars where they had watched the game on TV and cheered after the win.

Head coach Hajime Moriyasu said: “For Asia too, the fact that we were able to win against Germany and Spain, top countries in the world, will give a lot of confidence. We still have a lot to learn but we are confident that Asian and Japanese football can beat the top teams in the world. I want to share this joy.”

Prime Minister too Fumio Kishida was excited about reaching the round of 16. Japan was able to achieve “a great result in the biggest game”. Kishida went on to say, “I would like to express my heartfelt respect for your tremendous efforts.” He shared the joy of reaching the round of 16 with people all over Japan, according to the prime minister, who himself is in a polling low.

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