Japan’s national soccer team squandered an opportunity to seal its ticket to the knockout stages of the World Cup on Saturday after a goal by Keysher Fuller near the end gave Costa Rica a surprise 1-0 victory in a match in which it barely kicked the goal.
Costa Rica, which came from being thrashed 7-0 by Spain in the debut, adds three points, the same as Japan, and reaches the final match of the group against Germany with a chance of getting into the second round, something unthinkable after the debacle of the first match.
The Blue Samurai failed to build on the momentum of their surprise win over Germany on Wednesday and will regret a string of missed opportunities in a match in which they showed little creativity against a Costa Rican team that defended resolutely.
When no one expected it, and on Costa Rica’s only shot on goal in the entire match, Fuller shot from the edge of the box and broke goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda’s weak resistance.
The defeat leaves Japan with a tough challenge to advance to the knockout stages as it will define their chances of advancing to Spain on Thursday.