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Thomas Müller waves a hand during Germany's match with Costa Rica
Thomas Müller and Germany waved goodbye to the World Cup on ThursdayImage: Martin Meissner/AP Photo

Germany out of World Cup at group stage

December 1, 2022

For the second World Cup in a row, Germany are heading home after the group stage. A 4-2 win against Costa Rica wasn't enough for Hansi Flick's side after Japan shocked Spain with a comeback win.

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It's happened again. A little over four years after South Korea sent them spinning out of Russia 2018, Germany are out of the Qatar World Cup at the first hurdle, despite a dramatic 4-2 win over unfancied Costa Rica.

"For me personally, this is an absolute catastrophe," Germany forward Thomas Müller, 33, told German broadcaster ARD after the match, before suggesting he will now retire from international football. "If this was my last game, I want to say a few words to our fans who have supported me for years. I have always tried to leave my heart on the field."

With the memory of Russia fresh in their minds, Germany flew out the blocks. Müller flashed a simple header wide before Serge Gnabry opened the scoring with a more difficult header chance on 10 minutes.

But once again, Hansi Flick's side were wasteful in front of goal and became increasingly slack both on and off the ball as the first half wore on, with Manuel Neuer forced into an excellent save just before the break.

Just as against Japan in their opening match of the tournament, Germany failed to learn their lesson and were punished after 58 minutes. Possession was lost in midfield, Neuer spilt a header and Yeltsin Tejeda bundled home from close range.

"We didn't crash out today, we crashed out in those 20 minutes against Japan," Flick told ARD. "We lacked efficiency, and that is why we are out."

Japan shock Spain

Meanwhile, the other game in Group E had turned in an even more dramatic fashion. Alvaro Morata's early strike had been overturned by Ritsu Doan, who also scored against Germany, and Ao Tanaka, meaning Japan sat at the top of the group, with Germany behind Spain on goal difference.

Japan's Takuma Asano celebrates qualifying for the knockout stages
Japan advanced to the knockout stage as the best team in Group EImage: Paul Childs/REUTERS

But the Group E surprises didn't end there. After Germany hit the post three times in quick succession, Juan Pablo Vargas poked home a loose ball when the 2014 world champions failed to clear a free kick.

For a brief while, Costa Rica and Japan were qualifying from a group including Germany and 2010 winners Spain. But substitute Kai Havertz dinked a finish over Keylor Navas on 73 minutes, allowing Spain back into second spot, sending Costa Rica out and giving Germany a sliver of hope.

That sliver widened in the 85th minute after as Havertz got another to restore Germany's lead before Füllkrug added a fourth four minutes later. But they still needed Spain to find an equalizer.

With little incentive to do so, they could not. Germany's opening defeat to Japan has ultimately cost them. The inquest starts now.

Edited by: Sean Sinico

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