Poland have secured their first win of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and in the process nearly eliminated Japan from the tournament.
Colombia’s victory over Senegal however, and Japan’s fewer yellow cards when compared to Senegal secures the Asian nation’s place in the round of 16. They are the only team from the Asian confederation to qualify for the knockout stages this time around.
Japan made life difficult for themselves after conceding in the second half as Jan Bednarek put Poland ahead after volleying home truly close to goal.
Despite chasing the game for a few minutes, Japan began to play like a team protecting a lead as they placed all their faith in Colombia holding on to defeat Senegal in the other match which was taking place over 500 miles away.
The last ten minutes in particular saw Japan merely pass the ball among themselves in their own half as they tried desperately to avoid conceding another goal that would have eliminated them from the tournament.
Interestingly enough, Poland decided not to press Japan and simply let the Asian nation play conservatively en route to fulltime. Both nations looked like they were happy with the result, producing one of the most dire examples of football seen at this World Cup.
In the end, Japan’s faith in Colombia paid off and they are now through to the knockout stages where they will face either England or Belgium in the next round. England face Belgium later in the day to determine first place in Group G.
Columbia qualified first despite losing their star player James Rodriguez, while Japan’s second placing is the first time the yellow card count back rule has been tested. Senegal conceded two yellow cards in stoppage time earlier in the tournament which effectively put them out before the knockout stages.