Victory helped by VAR

Kaoru Mitoma stops the ball from going out of play ahead of Japan’s second goal in World Cup Group E action against Spain at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on Thursday.

A lengthy review by the video assistant referee (VAR) preceded confirmation of Japan’s second goal against Spain on Thursday, as the Samurai Blue secured yet another shock win at the Qatar World Cup following last week’s victory against powerhouse Germany.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Japan came from behind to beat the Spaniards 2-1, qualifying for the knockout stage as leaders of Group E.

In the 51st minute, Ritsu Doan, the scorer of Japan’s equalizer, fired a cross into the penalty area that was just beyond the reach of striker Daizen Maeda. But winger Kaoru Mitoma managed to keep the ball alive, deftly sending it across the face of the goal where a switched-on Ao Tanaka slipped past a defender and knocked the ball into the net.

It looked like the ball might have gone out of play before Mitoma struck it in initial replays, but after a lengthy check the VAR confirmed the whole ball had not crossed the line and the referee indicated the goal would stand, sparking wild celebrations by the Japanese squad.

Under the rules, the ball is in play until the whole ball has crossed the line.