Japan failed to take another step towards the World Cup knockout rounds as Keysher Fuller’s late goal earned Costa Rica a smash-and-grab Group E victory.
Following their shock win over Germany, Japan were frustrated by a tight defensive unit, before Fuller struck with Costa Rica’s first shot on target at the tournament.
The result leaves both teams on three points after two games, with Spain – who still top the group on goal difference – facing Germany later on Sunday (19:00 GMT).
Victory for Spain will all but guarantee their progression to the last 16.
After beating Germany in their opener, many expected Japan to account for a Costa Rica side reeling from a 7-0 thrashing by Spain.
However, Japan boss Hajime Moriyasu opted for rotation over continuity, making five changes, and that resulted in a subdued performance and a scoreline that blew the group wide open.
It was a remarkable victory for Costa Rica, who had failed to lay a glove on the Japan defence before Fuller’s deflected shot from the edge of the box escaped goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda’s grasp nine minutes from time.
After a first half devoid of goalmouth action in the searing heat at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Japan dominated for large spells. However, they struggled to create clear-cut chances until the 88th minute, when Daichi Kamada could not turn the ball home after a driving Kaoru Mitoma run.
Having achieved redemption following their humiliation at the hands of Spain, the Costa Rica players celebrated emotionally at full-time as Japan were left to rue a disappointing display that failed to back up their heroics against Germany.
- 2YamaneBooked at 44minsSubstituted forMitomaat 62′minutes
- 4ItakuraBooked at 84mins
- 5NagatomoSubstituted forItoat 45′minutes
- 6EndoBooked at 90mins
- 8DoanSubstituted forItoat 67′minutes
- 24SomaSubstituted forMinaminoat 82′minutes
- 21UedaSubstituted forAsanoat 45′minutes
- 19H Sakai
- 15CalvoBooked at 70mins
- 5BorgesBooked at 61minsSubstituted forSalasat 89′minutes
- 13TorresSubstituted forAguileraat 65′minutes
- 12CampbellSubstituted forChacónat 90+5′minutes
- 7ContrerasBooked at 41minsSubstituted forBennetteat 65′minutes
- Michael Oliver
Match ends, Japan 0, Costa Rica 1.
Second Half ends, Japan 0, Costa Rica 1.
Junya Ito (Japan) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Bryan Oviedo (Costa Rica).
Substitution, Costa Rica. Daniel Chacón replaces Joel Campbell.
Foul by Kaoru Mitoma (Japan).
Keysher Fuller (Costa Rica) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Wataru Endo (Japan) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Wataru Endo (Japan).
Yeltsin Tejeda (Costa Rica) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Costa Rica. Youstin Salas replaces Celso Borges.
Attempt saved. Daichi Kamada (Japan) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Takuma Asano.
Ko Itakura (Japan) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Ko Itakura (Japan).
Jewison Bennette (Costa Rica) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Substitution, Japan. Takumi Minamino replaces Yuki Soma.
Goal! Japan 0, Costa Rica 1. Keysher Fuller (Costa Rica) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Yeltsin Tejeda.
Offside, Costa Rica. Brandon Aguilera tries a through ball, but Keysher Fuller is caught offside.
Corner, Japan. Conceded by Óscar Duarte.
Corner, Japan. Conceded by Keysher Fuller.
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