Japan squeeze into last 16 via Fair Play
Posted: 28 June 2018 Time: 04:49 pm
Japan secured their ticket to the knockout round of the 2018 World Cup, despite suffering a 1-0 loss to Poland on Thursday evening.
The Blue Samurai were enjoying the most of the possession in the early stages, while Shinji Okazaki threatened the Poland goal in the opening 10 minutes.
Poland were conservative in their approach, opting to keep their shape at the back and spring forward whenever they saw gaps.
However, the Poles were upping the tempo after 20 minutes and began to play with a little bit more freedom.
Japan were creating opportunities on set-plays for most of the half, but the Poles’ aerial strength was too much for the Japanese.
The pace of the match was waning in the closing minutes of the half and the two sides went into the break goalless.
The pressure paid off for Poland on the hour-mark as Jan Bednarek broke the deadlock with a strike inside the box following a free-kick.
Akira Nishino’s charges got a wake-up call and were threatening to get the equaliser with 20 minutes to go, but they had to create chances.
Japan were playing deep in their own half with five minutes to go, bizarrely holding on while trailing by 1-0 as an equaliser for Senegal against Colombia would have seen them eliminated.
In the end, the score remained 1-0 in both games as Japan progressed to the last 16 on the Fair Play rule, as they accumulated less yellow cards then third-place Senegal after the two nations boasted identical records after three games.