Was the ball in or out? Japan's controversial second goal against Spain at World Cup 2022

Kaoru Mitoma is adjudged to have crossed the ball before it goes completely out of play for Japan's second goal against Spain at the 2022 World Cup.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Was it in or was it out? Japan's second goal against Spain on Thursday night has sparked huge debate after television images seemed to show the ball had gone out of play before Kaoru Mitoma crossed the ball for Ao Tanaka to score the winner.

Spain went in a goal up at the break in the Group E clash thanks to Alvaro Morata's header after 12 minutes, but Japan levelled early in the second half as Unai Simon failed to keep out Ritsu Doan's long-range strike.

And the moment of real controversy came after 51 minutes as Mitoma stretched on the goal line to put the ball back across for Tanaka to scramble home from close range.

Japan's Kaoru Mitoma crosses the ball in the lead-up to his side's second goal against Spain at World Cup 2022.

(Image credit: Twitter)

In real time, it appeared that the ball was out of play before it was centred by the Brighton forward and replays seemed to suggest that it was indeed over the line.

No additional images were provided by FIFA at the time but the goal was given after a VAR check and it had huge consequences on Group E.

The scores stayed as they were and that saw Japan through as group winners, with Spain in second and Germany eliminated.

Had Spain's match against Japan finished 1-1, Hansi Flick's side would have gone through on goal difference.

The above image seems to show that the curvature of the ball was not 100% over the line, which would mean the decision is correct, but the margins are incredibly fine.

So what do you think: was the ball in or out?

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Weekend editor

Ben Hayward is Weekend Editor for FourFourTwo. A European football writer with over 15 years’ experience, he has covered games all over the world - including three World Cups, several Champions League finals, Euros, Copa América - and has spent much of that time in Spain. He currently divides his time between Barcelona and London.