Japan added their name to the list of stunning World Cup upsets as they beat four-time winners Germany 2-1, a day after Saudi Arabia’s shock defeat of Argentina.
Spain served warning of their credentials by thrashing Costa Rica 7-0, 2018 finalists Croatia were held 0-0 by Morocco and Belgium also made a stuttering start as they edged past Canada 1-0.
There was good news for England though, as skipper Harry Kane appears set to be fit for Friday’s Group B game with USA after training with the rest of the squad.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the major talking points on the tournament’s fourth day.
Japan topple Germany in historic upset
Japan boss Hajime Moriyasu described his side’s 2-1 win against Germany in their Group E opener as the greatest result in the nation’s football history.
Germany were leading deep in the second half through Ilkay Gundogan’s 33rd-minute penalty, but late strikes from Japan substitutes Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano, who play in Germany for Freiburg and Bochum respectively, produced a huge upset.
Asked afterwards if he thought it was the greatest result in Japanese football history, Moriyasu told a press conference: “Yes, I believe it is a historic moment, a historic victory, to say the least.”
Spain’s Magnificent Seven
Spain recorded their biggest-ever World Cup win as they thrashed Costa Rica 7-0 in their opening Group E game.
The contest was over within 31 minutes as Dani Olmo, Marco Asensio and Ferran Torres’ penalty put Spain 3-0 up, before Torres grabbed his second and Gavi and substitutes Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morato completed the rout.
Spain eclipsed their previous biggest World Cup win to raise expectations the 2010 champions can challenge for the main prize again.
Big guns falter
Belgium’s star-studded line-up, tipped to go deep in the tournament, struggled in their opening Group F game against Canada as Michy Batshuayi’s solitary strike just before half-time clinched them a narrow win.
Canada missed a first-half penalty – Alphonso Davies’ weak effort was saved – had two more appeals controversially denied and had 22 shots on goal at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.
Croatia’s bid to emulate their World Cup exploits of four years ago also began in stuttering fashion with a frustrating Group F stalemate against Morocco.
Kane fitness boost
Harry Kane gave England a huge boost by training with the rest of the squad on Wednesday in preparation for Friday’s Group B clash with the United States.
Kane’s fitness has been in doubt after he sustained an ankle injury in Monday’s 6-2 thrashing of Iran, but the England skipper, who is due for a scan, appears to be fit and is expected in training again on Thursday.
Harry Maguire also trained on Wednesday having come off against Iran feeling unwell, but James Maddison was absent again as he recovers from a knee injury.
Germany to avoid sanctions
Germany will not face disciplinary action from FIFA for covering their mouths during a team photo before their match against Japan, the PA news agency understands.
Tension between the seven European nations who supported the OneLove campaign and FIFA continued to simmer, while the Football Association declined to comment on whether the England team would copy the German gesture ahead of their match against the United States.
The FA is exploring its legal options over the matter alongside its Danish and German counterparts after FIFA threatened to give yellow cards to captains who had planned to wear the OneLove armband during matches to promote diversity and inclusion.
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Who’s up next?
Group G: Switzerland v Cameroon (1000, ITV1)
Group H: Uruguay v Korea (1300, BBC1)
Group H: Portugal v Ghana (1600, ITV1)
Group G: Brazil v Serbia (1900, BBC1)