Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu praised the determination of his side after a stunning second-half comeback saw them beat Spain to book their place in the last 16 of the World Cup as Group E winners.

Spain had looked in total control at the break after taking the lead through Alvaro Morata's early header.

However, following a couple of changes at half-time, Japan produced a remarkable turnaround in the space of five minutes.

Substitute Ritsu Doan equalised with a 20-yard drive before Ao Tanaka bundled in a second goal – which VAR allowed to stand following a lengthy review after the ball had appeared to have gone out of play during the build-up as Brighton midfielder Kaoru Mitoma cut it back from the line.

Japan will now go on to play Croatia on Monday afternoon for a place in the quarter-finals.

"We played against Spain, which is one of the best teams in the world. We knew before the game that this was going to be very tough and difficult, and indeed, it was," Moriyasu said.

"The players conceded one goal, but they persisted and they persevered and tried to change the flow of the game. We played as one and I could feel the times had changed.

"There were many fans who came all the way from Japan and as well those who stayed behind in Japan, and I think our win is also owed to them."

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On Japan’s second goal, Moriyasu, speaking through an interpreter, said: "We were just playing to win. We think that our intensity materialised as a goal.

"Whether the ball was out or not, there is great technology nowadays for big football (matches).

"If it was really out, it would have been a goal kick, but the judgement of the referee was it was in.

"We respected it, but we were willing to respect either way. The final judgement was it was in."

Spain coach Luis Enrique was livid at the way his side had panicked as they threw away the chance to secure top spot in the group. They will now play Morocco in the bottom half of the draw.

"We are classified for the round of 16, which was the goal, but I am not happy at all," Enrique told a press conference.

"After a match in which the rival was dominated for 80 minutes, but we were the ones who lost. I have nothing to celebrate, I don’t celebrate defeats.

"Yes, we are qualified, but I would have liked to be on top of the group and of course now the brackets (of the draw) change and many things are different."

Enrique added: "In five minutes they scored two goals and in those 10 minutes, they completely dismantled us.

"We have entered collapse mode. If they had needed to score two more goals, they would have scored them against us."

Having made changes for the match, Enrique stood by his decisions. "I have full confidence in my players," he said.

"Just 10 minutes of panic are not going to change what I think. My job is now to lift up the spirits."

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