Japan defeat 10-man Colombia 2-1 in another upset
- Author: Lawrence Cooper Jun 20, 2018,
Jun 20, 2018, 7:50
Group H always looked like the most unpredictable at this World Cup, and so it felt appropriate that its opening match saw underdogs Japan beat favorites Colombia, thanks to goals either side of halftime from Shinji Kagawa and Yuya Osako.
Soon after the match began, Yuya Osako of Japan won a bouncing ball to begin a series of actions that led to a penalty.
A costly mistake by Colombia midfielder Carlos Sanchez in the opening minutes led to a red card and a penalty, helping Japan take an early lead.
However, do not expect that stat to last too long as James Rodriguez picked up the Golden Boot four years ago, as well as clinching the goal of the tournament, and he even scored in every match Colombia played.
But the joy was short lived for Japan as Juan Quintero as Colombia equalised six minutes before the interval when his low free kick squeezed over the line, just past the outstretched hand of diving Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima. With Japan rotating between the Werder Bremen forward, Mainz's Yoshinori Muto and Leicester's Shinji Okazaki as the lone target man in their warm-up matches, Osako's 73rd-minute victor showed he was the man for the job.
Japan became the latest side to pull off an upset at the World Cup, joining Mexico, Switzerland and Iceland in earning surprising results.
Jonathan Evans adapted this story based on the Associated Press news report.
Hiroki Sakai then had a shot blocked out for a corner which Osako rose above Santiago Arias to head in off the right post to settle things, silencing the overwhelming Colombian crowd. Incidentally there have been more direct free-kick goals scored in just 15 games at this World Cup than there were in the entire 2014 edition.
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Victory over Colombia will give Japan hope of progressing beyond the group stage for the first time since 2010, while Pekerman will hope that James can return to full fitness in time for their forthcoming clash with Poland.
A tough day in the office for the centre-back but he remained calm despite the pressure, positioning himself well to get to contested balls first.
Colombia started without Rodriguez, the leading scorer at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
But despite the win, Japan manager Akira Nishino said nothing was decided yet.
I know Sanchez had a bad game, people need to calm down he usually has jan next to him, also played a lot of games for us last season & he is only 22.
Shinji Okazaki also was named on the bench after a calf complaint but Shinji Kagawa was handed a start.
World Cup games are known for starting on time, but not this one.
Nonetheless, from the resultant corner, Japan finally found the breakthrough as Honda's unsafe delivery found Osako, who showed the greatest hunger in a sea of opposition defenders to send a deft header past Ospina and win it for his team.