Friday, 16 November, 2018

Jan Bednarek ensures victory for Poland, but Japan still reach last 16

Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima punches the ball into the path of Senegal forward Sadio Mane Goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima gifted Sadio Mane a goal in Japan's 2-2 draw with Senegal
Jennie Wade | 30 June, 2018, 21:00

Japan's Gotoku Sakai in action with Poland's Artur Jedrzejczyk and Jan Bednarek.

Jan Bednarek scored the only goal of the game for the already-eliminated Poles a minute before the hour mark to condemn Japan to their first defeat of the campaign, in what proved to be a woeful display from the Asian side.

Japanese football fans on Friday debated their team's controversial tactics at the World Cup, with most accepting them as an inevitable outcome of the tournament's tiebreaking format.

"My decision was to rely on the other match", Nishino said after full-time.

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

But it was a surprise to see him leave out Takashi Inui, who has been outstanding, with three goals in his past four appearances for Japan, and midfield partner Shinji Kagawa for Hotaru Yamaguchi and Takashi Usami.

He said his decision to make six changes to his side was down to fatigue rather than any attempt to play for a draw.

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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Senegal's six yellow cards to Japan's four ultimately cost the African side, which exits Russian Federation in disappointing circumstances. He beat his marker at the far post and volleyed in a swerving free kick from Rafal Kurzawa.

Gary Lineker, analysing the highlights of the match following Colombia's win over Senegal, echoed the sentiments of most football fans by saying: "This surely goes against what the game stands for".

Poland had to wait until the 32nd minute for a chance as Bartosz Bereszynski picked out Kamil Grosicki, who met the cross with a header that was palmed away by goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.

His cleverly directed header looked destined for the bottom corner until Kawashima made up huge amounts of ground to claw it to safety with a right hand at full stretch.

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.

So Japan goes through and next plays the victor of Group G on Monday, while Colombia will face the Group G runner-up Tuesday.

Poland, for the third straight World Cup that it has competed in, lost its first two group matches and then won its third.

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