Germany and Belgium crash out of World Cup; Munster look to close gap on Edinburgh

The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Germany are out of the World Cup at the group stage for a second successive tournament, despite last night’s wild 4-2 win over Costa Rica. The four-time world champions came from behind to win, with Chelsea’s Kai Havertz scoring a quick-fire double, but Japan’s 2-1 comeback victory against Spain saw Hansi Flick’s side heading for the exit. Remarkably Japan topped the group with Spain progressing in second, ahead of the Germans on goal difference. Two goals in quick succession after half-time from Ritsu Doan and Ao Tanaka shocked Spain cold. Tanaka’s goal was controversially allowed to stand following a lengthy VAR review after the ball had appeared to have gone out of play. The silver lining for Spain is they will meet Morocco next rather than 2018 finalists Croatia. The latter held on for a draw with Belgium, with Romelu Lukaku suffering the five circles of football hell, as his team crashed out. Morocco’s 2-1 win over Canada sealed their progression as group winners.

In URC action tonight, Edinburgh host Munster in the DAM Health Stadium with kick-off at 7.45pm. A win for Munster would see them close the six-point gap on Edinburgh and confirm that their season has genuine momentum heading into a new European campaign. Jack Crowley is again backup to Joey Carbery, with the Young Munster and academy back three player Patrick Campbell in line for his sixth appearance. Peter O’Mahony captains again, and Tadhg Beirne starts again. Check out Gerry Thornley’s match preview here.

In his column this morning, Seán Moran explains how the GAA are moving towards having a more centralised role in protecting referees. Looking ahead to this Saturday’s central council meeting he writes: “The headline-grabber is the raising of top suspension from two years to five years but given that the problems have arisen more from the reluctance to impose the toughest sanctions rather than the nature of them, more will be needed to address the bad behaviour ...”

Meanwhile, a spectacular hole-in-one helped Ireland’s Tom McKibbin make a superb start to the South African Open Championship. The 19-year-old holed out with a five iron from 232 yards on the 11th hole at Blair Atholl Golf and Country Estate, the longest course in DP World Tour history.