2018 World Cup
0′ Match is about to start
14′ CHANCE! Muto’s shot saved
SAVE! Muto continues to pop up in dangerous areas for Japan, forcing a save from Fabianski with a low strike from outside the box.
22′ Vital clearance from Sakai
Poland win a corner after Grosicki’s dangerous cross into the area but Glik is penalised in the middle for holding a shirt as he headed Kurzawa’s corner towards goal.
31′ SAVE! Kawashima denies Grosicki’s shot
SAVE! Bereszynski whips a superb cross into the middle where Grosicki heads at goal but Kawashima saves superbly, just about keeping the ball out. The goal line decision system showed it was extremely close.
59′ GOAL! Japan 0-1 Poland (J. Bednarek)
GOOOAL! Poland take a 1-0 lead! Kurzawa curls an inviting free-kick finds Bednarek with room inside the area and he tucks home with ease. It is his first ever international goal in just his sixth cap.
73′ CHANCE! Lewandowski’s shot over the bar
OVER! A huge chance for Poland to double their advantage as they hit on the counter with Grosicki surging forward, cutting a low ball across the face of goal to Lewandowski but he strikes an effort over the bar.
Japan became the first team to qualify from the World Cup group stages via fair play rankings despite a 1-0 defeat to Poland in which Akira Nishino bizarrely made six changes to an unbeaten team.
The Samurai Blue had beaten Colombia and drawn with Senegal to enter their final Group H match, against already-eliminated Poland, requiring only a point to reach the last 16.
But Japan scarcely threatened as Shinji Kagawa and Takashi Inui started on the bench and they were instead dependent on results elsewhere after Jan Bednarek’s fine strike won the game for Poland.
Colombia’s Yerry Mina came to Nishino’s rescue, though, as his goal defeated Senegal and ensured Japan progressed in second place due to their superior disciplinary record.
Senegal’s six yellow cards to Japan’s four ultimately cost the African side, who exit Russia in disappointing circumstances.
On this showing, neither England nor Belgium – Japan’s potential last-16 opponents – will fear playing Nishino’s men, who will be grateful simply to make the knockout stages and may well be unrecognisable after this risky experiment.
Japan XI: Eiji Kawashima, Tomoaki Makino, Shinji Okazaki, Maya Yoshida, Yuto Nagatomo, Hiroki Sakai, Gotoku Sakai, Takashi Usami, Hotaru Yamaguchi, Gaku Shibasaki, Yoshinori Muto
Subs: Makoto Hasebe, Takashi Inui, Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa, Yuya Osako, Genki Haraguchi, Masaaki Higashiguchi, Wataru Endo, Gen Shoji, Ryota Oshima, Kosuke Nakamura, Naomichi Ueda
Poland XI: Lukasz Fabianski, Artur Jedrzejczyk, Kamil Grosicki, Robert Lewandowski, Kamil Glik, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Bartosz Bereszynski, Piotr Zielinski, Jacek Goralski, Rafal Kurzawa, Jan Bednarek
Subs: Michal Pazdan, Bartosz Bialkowski, Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Piszczek, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Maciej Rybus, Slawomir Peszko, Thiago Cionek, Lukasz Teodorczyk, Arkadiusz Milik, Karol Linetty, Dawid Kownacki