SA ref Gomes, VAR steal headlines as Japan's controversial winner sends Germany packing

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Referee Victor Gomes and Sergio Busquets of Spain. (Photo by Youssef Loulidi/Fantasista/Getty Images)
Referee Victor Gomes and Sergio Busquets of Spain. (Photo by Youssef Loulidi/Fantasista/Getty Images)

In what was a dramatic night of Group E World Cup action, South African referee Victor Gomes and VAR grabbed the centre of attention.

In the match between Spain and Japan, the Europeans took an early lead in the first half through Alvaro Morata and looked likely to end as group leaders.

However, Japan fought back in the second half and equalised in the 48th minute through Ritsu Doan, who fired a powerful strike past Spanish goalkeeper Unai Simon. 

Just a few minutes later, Ao Tanaka added a second for Japan following Kaoru Mitoma's cross, giving Japan a surprise lead.

But there was controversy as it appeared that the ball was out of play for Mitoma's cross.

Does Kaoru Mitoma keep the ball in play? (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Victor Gomes
Referee Victor Gomes and Sergio Busquets of Spain. (Photo by Youssef Loulidi/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Referee Gomes initially disallowed the goal but then VAR intervened. 

After a lengthy VAR check, Gomes was instructed to award the goal which ultimately resulted in a 2-1 victory for Japan, knocking out Germany in the process.

Japan ended up as Group E winners, followed by Spain in second place.

If not for VAR, Germany would have qualified for the knockout stages alongside Spain as a draw would've been enough for them to go through ahead of Japan on goal difference.

Unfortunately, the four time World Champions, Die Mannschaft, would have to settle for third place through a controversial decision.

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