Japan edge ten-man Colombia
Posted: 19 June 2018 Time: 03:55 pm
Japan made hard work of a ten-man Colombia to record a historic 2-1 victory in their FIFA World Cup opener within a thrilling Group H encounter at the Mordovia Arena.
Colombia started the Group H fixture without the 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner Rodriguez due to muscle fatigue, while Japan were without Leicester City striker Okazaki due to a calf problem.
But it it didn't hinder the game from immediate fireworks as the first red card of Russia 2018 was in the third minute when midfielder Carlos Sanchez produced a professional foul.
The former Aston Villa man blocked a shot from Japan playmaker Shinji Kagawa with his arm and saw a straight red while Colombia were further punished with a penalty - in what was the first real attack of the game.
Kagawa stepped up to slot the subsequent penalty, which was the start of action-packed first-half.
With chances at either end, the Asian country failed to make their numerical advantage count in their favour - as they were pegged back six minutes before the break.
Juan Quintero, the playmaker who replaced Rodriguez in the starting XI, made the most of his surprise inclusion with a low free-kick that squeezed underneath the Colombian wall and inexplicably beat Eiji Kawashima at his near post.
Despite the valiant efforts of the ten men of Colombia in the second-half, the inspired substitution of Keisuke Honda brought the winner, as the former AC Milan midfielder whipped in a pin-point corner for Yuya Osako smash a header in off the post from six yards out.
It marked the first victory of an Asian side against South American opposition in FIFA World Cup history while the Samurai Blue took the early initiative in Group H - comprising of Senegal and Poland.
Japan: Eiji Kawashima; Yuto Nagatomo, Gen Shoji, Maya Yoshida, Hiroki Sakai; Gaku Shibasaki, Makoto Hasebe; Takashi Inui, Shinji Kagawa, Genki Haraguchi; Yuya Osako
Substitutes: Keisuke Honda, Naomichi Ueda, Hotaru Yamaguchi, Kosuke Nakamura, Yoshinori Muto, Wataru Endo, Shinji Okazaki, Gotoku Sakai, Ryota Oshima, Takashi Usami, Tomoaki Makino, Masaaki Higashiguchi
Colombia: David Ospina; Johan Mojica, Davinson Sanchez, Oscar Murillo, Santiago Arias; Carlos Sanchez, Jefferson Lerma; Jose Izquierdo, Juan Quintero, Juan Cuadrado; Radamel Falcao
Substitutes: Wilmar Barrios, Camilo Vargas, Jose Cuadrado, Yerry Mina, Cristian Zapata, James Rodriguez, Miguel Borja, Mateus Uribe, Carlos Bacca, Abel Aguilar, Luis Muriel, Farid Diaz