Former Real Madrid forward Hugo Sanchez has suggested that Spain lost to Japan in their final group game so they could avoid tournament favourites Brazil in the World Cup quarter-finals.
Japan, Spain and Germany were involved in one of the most dramatic evenings in World Cup history on Thursday as they battled to qualify from Group E.
Costa Rica gave the Germans a serious run for their money but ended up losing 4-2, while outsiders Japan secured top spot after a dramatic 2-1 victory over Spain.
That game, of course, included a controversial VAR call for Ao Tanaka's winner – a decision that was replayed over and over again.
After hanging on for more than 40 minutes, the resilient Japan secured top spot, while four-time champions Germany plummeted out at the group stages.
In the aftermath of Thursday's games, Mexico legend Hugo Sanchez suggested Spain lost to Japan on purpose to avoid the mighty Brazil later on.
The conversation sparked when ESPN presenter David Faitelson asked Sanchez: "You are assuring me that Spain looked for this result to avoid Brazil?"
The 64-year-old, who played in three World Cups with Mexico, replied: "I assure you. I was not there and I’m not in the mind of Luis Enrique but he had thought about what was the best way to avoid playing Brazil in the quarter-finals.
"Yes there is a risk but it’s a risk worth taking. It’s not that they fear Brazil but they respect them."
Mexican analysts Roberto Gomez Junco and Francisco Gabriel de Anda looked on in disbelief but according to Spanish publication Diario AS, Sanchez added: "The coach is never going to admit it. Managers don’t say: 'I let them win'."
Because of their defeat to Japan, Luis Enrique's Spain are now on the opposite side of the draw and can only face Brazil in the final. Japan, meanwhile, face Brazil if they beat Croatia.
Ahead of kick-off, Enrique flagged the possibility of Costa Rica winning their game against Germany when asked about the possibility of Spain losing to Japan.
He said: "We have asked ourselves that question but from a professional point of view you can imagine it being 0-0 in both games on minute 95 and Japan score and Costa Rica score and we’re out."
For a few minutes, Germany and Spain were penned to go out at the knockout stage but things soon changed in Group E when Germany equalised with 73 minutes played.
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