Japan Satisfied With 1-0 Defeat to Poland - Head Coach

Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima punches the ball into the path of Senegal forward Sadio Mane

Yet they still progressed in second place on the fairplay tie-breaker, having collected fewer yellow cards than Senegal, who were level on points, goal difference and goals scored with Japan, after the Africans lost 1-0 to Colombia.

While the Samurai Blue lost, the tiebreaker between them and Senegal went down to fair play points. But it took its first ever lead in World Cup play in the 33rd minute through an own-goal when Jose Luis Rodriguez's hard, left-footed shot deflected off of Tunisia's Yassine Meriah.

When Bednarek scored, Japan were facing elimination.

A first half of little drama concluded to a chorus of whistles from the crowd and little changed following the restart.

The Poles reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, where they went out on penalties to eventual champions Portugal, and more had been expected after they had finished top of their qualifying group for the World Cup.

But two minutes later they were given a reprieve by Colombia defender Yerry Mina's thumping header in the group's other game. "I would like to play both of them because they will pose a fantastic challenge for us".

Winger Kamil Grosicki forced Eiji Kawashima into a smart save with a header, and Tomoaki Mikono nearly diverted a cross into his own net late on. The Colombians appeared as to regain form with a 3-0 victory over Poland.

Poland immediately countered and once again gave the Japanese cause for concern with Kamil Grosicki crossing from the right and Kawashima just reaching the ball before the lurking Piotr Zielinski.




Colombia has 45 minutes to shoot its way into the World Cup's knockout stage, and it will have to do it without James Rodriguez.

Robert Lewandowski then had a chance to put Poland ahead 2-0 - a result that would have allowed Senegal to advance - in the 74th minute after a swift counterattack but his effort flew over the bar.

Both Group G teams were already eliminated going into the match.

Perhaps seeking to guarantee fresher legs in the next round, head coach Akira Nishino made six changes to his team and the gamble nearly backfired spectacularly.

"The World Cup was not a success for us, but we'll go home with our heads high because we won the last game".

The star midfielder was subbed out just 31 minutes into his squad's final group match, in Samara against Senegal, which is tied 0-0 at the half. "We fought as much as we could but that was all we could do, bearing in mind the problems we had before the World Cup in terms of injuries and form".

"What if we conceded another goal and it was 0-2?" he said.

Japan, who had only needed to draw against Poland to guarantee qualification, will next face a daunting task against the winners of Thursday's Group G decider between England and Belgium.

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