Japan booed off after losing to Poland but reaching last 16

Sherman Parsons
June 30, 2018

Jun 29, 2018-Japan lost 1-0 in a tiresome game with Poland on Thursday but still became the only Asian side to qualify for the World Cup's last 16 - and the first team ever to progress thanks to FIFA's new disciplinary tie-breaker rule.

Japan have progressed through to the last 16 of the World Cup, despite losing to Poland in Thursday's World Cup clash in Volgograd.

If Japan can put in a similar showing against a struggling Poland, they have an excellent chance of at least securing the point they need.

The second half then gave way to high drama, as Poland's Rafal Kurzawa floated a free kick to the far post and an unmarked Bednarek volleyed home 30 minutes from time, putting Japan out as things stood.

Nice guys don't necessarily finish last at the World Cup.

Japan's Eiji Kawashima reacts after a miss by Poland's Robert Lewandowski in the FIFA World Cup at Volgograd Arena, Volgograd, Russia on Thursday.

The game petered out in the dying minutes in farcical circumstances with both Japan and Poland so happy with the result that they were content to let the Japanese play keep-ball in their own half.

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But with the Peruvians leading 2-0 before the hour in that game, the Moscow clash settled down to little more than a canter. Didier Deschamps is likely to rest some key players for the tie after narrow victories over Australia and Peru.

They were touted as the favourites to be knocked out of group H first, but all the predictions changed after the Samurai Blue's defeated a 10-man Colombia side 2-1 courtesy of a 3rd minute Shinji Kagawa goal and a 73rd-minute victor from Yuya Osako.

The result means Japan reach the knockout phase for the third time in their six World Cups but Nishino had to face some hard questions about his decisions for the match at a sweltering Volgograd Arena.

In the other Group G match, Tunisia finished with a 2-1 win over Panama to claim third place, leaving the Central Americans bottom with no points and a minus-nine goal difference.

Ryu Kuroda, a 30-year-old from Tokyo who was also in the Russian city, said he understood it as a tactic but that he "wanted to see Japan score".

"My players were very loyal in listening to me and following my decision". Scampering across his goal before diving, Kawashima clawed the ball to safety just before it had crossed the line.

Japan will go on to face the victor of the Belgium v England match in the Round of 16.

Poland coach Adam Nawalka said his team proved they were not quitters by winning their first game at a World Cup since they beat Costa Rica in Germany in 2006.

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