Live Commentary: Japan 0-0 Greece - as it happened
Relive with Sports Mole all the action from the World Cup Group C clash between Japan and Greece.
By Simon Sinclair, Reporter Filed: Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 21:58 UK
Last Updated: Saturday, June 21, 2014 at 07:32 UK
Japan and Greece faced off in their World Cup Group C clash in Natal in a game neither side could afford to lose.
Both sides were still looking for their first points of the tournament after suffering defeats in their respective opening games last week.
However, neither side was able to come away with all three points they played out a goalless draw despite Greece being reduced to 10 men when captain Kostas Katsouranis was dismissed in the first half.
Read below to see how all the action unfolded.
10pmGood evening and welcome to the live commentary of the World Cup Group C clash between Japan and Greece.
10.02pmWell if you are joining us again from seeing another England defeat in the World Cup, I apologise it's not my fault. I can only be on hand to cheer you up with action from this crucial Group C clash.
10.03pmThis is a must-win game for both sides following their defeats in the Group C opening games. Japan will look to close the gap on their conquerors of last week the Ivory Coast as they went down to a 2-1 defeat, while Greece can also join them on three points following Colombia's second victory of the World Cup.
10.06pmThere were a lot of positive signs for Japan in their opening defeat to Sabri Lamouchi's men. Keisuke Honda scored a wonderful goal, they were positive in attack and were unlucky not to double their lead in the first half. However, in the second half it was all one-way traffic so Alberto Zaccheroni will want his midfield to improve on their efforts as the offered little protection to the back four in their opener.
10.08pmOne player who will definitely want to improve on his performance in the first game is Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa. He had a decent start against the Ivory Coast but seemed to fade dramatically as the game progressed. The 25-year-old has the ability to make a major impact at this tournament despite his relatively poor season at the Red Devils, he just needs a bit of a confidence boost to find his form again.
10.11pmHonda carried his side in the first game with a dazzling display in the first 45 minutes against the Ivory Coast and Japan struggled immensely when his production dropped in the second half. A lot will be asked of him again this evening, but he sure has the ability to cause Greece all sorts of problems, following their struggles against James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado in the first game.
10.15pmDefensively Japan's centre backs Maya Yoshida and Masato Morishige were hung out to dry by their teammates in the second half. The duo performed well in the first 60 minutes of the game, but the pressure finally told as the Ivory Coast scored two in two minutes. They should get more support this time around and should be adept at handling the threat of Kostas Mitroglou and Georgios Samaras.
10.20pmThe team news has been announced and we'll start with Japan.
10.28pmA couple of changes for Japan as Kagawa is dropped for his display against the Ivory Coast and replaced by Yoshito Okubo, and Matsato Morishige also is out of the starting lineup and Yasuyuki Konno comes in at the back for Zaccheroni's side.
10.33pmThere's also a couple of changes from Greece as Dimitris Salpingidis and Theofanis Gekas are dropped for their poor performances in their defeat to Colombia. Giannis Fetfatzidis and Kostas Mitroglou come into the side to replace them in like-for-like changes.
10.37pmGreece were far from their best in the first game. They were kept in the match by some good defending from Kostas Manolas and Sokratis Papastathopoulos in the first half, but like Japan the pressure eventually told. The duo were excellent throughout qualifying so there is no reason why they can't find their form again this evening.
10.42pmFernando Santos will need better performances from his midfield this evening. Kostas Katsouranis and Giannis Maniatis were poor in the opening game of the tournament. The pace and the tenacity of the Colombian's totally passed them by, with only Panagiotis Kone making a marked impact from the middle. They will face a stiff test against Honda and co, but they need to perform otherwise they could be making an early exit.
10.46pmMore will be asked from Samaras as well, who had brief moments in the first game but those were few and far between. Mitroglou will have the chance to impress although he hasn't had the best 2014 since his £11m move to Fulham. He was scoring regularly for Olympiacos before his move, so he is capable and if he fires this evening it could boost his side's hopes of reaching the second round.
10.52pmThe players are making their way out onto the pitch and we should be underway shortly.
10.55pmIt's raining in Natal so it will be interesting to see if that has any impact on the game.
2 minAn opening down the right for Japan as Okubo raids down the right and beats the challenge of Holebas. He crosses the ball into the middle where the ball is half cleared to Yamaguchi who strikes the ball first time, but Manolas is there to make a crucial block.
5 minSome success now for Holebas as he raids the other way and he gets to race at Uchida and he manages to evade the challenge before whipping the ball to the near post, but Yoshida turns the ball behind for a corner.
6 minHolebas lifts the corner into box and it comes to Samaras at the back post, but he can't bring the ball under control and get a shot away before he gets crowded out and the ball is cleared.
7 minYoshida hits a wonderful long ball up through the middle of the Greece defence for Okazaki to chase as he makes a run through the middle. The striker tries to take the ball in stride, but he takes a poor touch and the ball goes out for a goal kick.
9 minNot much quality football on display as of yet, the tempo of the game is very slow at the moment as both sides seem to be eyeing up each other to search for a weakness.
10 minCHANCE! Kone makes a burst from middle and surges to the edge of the box. He doesn't have much support so he goes for goal with a powerful drive, which Kawashima fails to hold on the first attempt but fortunately for the keeper he doesn't spill the ball far and is able to gather.
12 minYELLOW CARD! Japan's skipper Hasebe goes into the book as he holds back the run of Maniatis after the midfielder had won the ball from him in 30 yards from goal.
13 minThe free kick is delivered into the box by Katsouranis but the referee blows his whistle for an infringement from Samaras in the box. A wasted opportunity for Greece there.
16 minMitroglou wins the ball from Nagatomo deep in the Japanese half, but the striker only had Samaras for company. The 26-year-old slides a through ball for the Celtic forward, but his pass is poor and Samaras is forced to slide with Yamaguchi to try and win it, and the midfielder wins the battle.
18 minJapan work an opening as Okubo and Osako link up well on the edge of the box, and Osako fires a low left-footed shot from 20 yards, but his effort is tame and Karnezis is able to gather the shot with ease.
21 minCHANCE! Osako runs with the ball down the left and decides to continue to the edge of the area as he is unchallenged. The forward strikes the ball with curl towards the top corner from 20 yards out, and his effort is a lot better than his first attempt, but it goes inches wide of the post. A great run and strike from the 1860 Munich man.
22 minGreece's turn to raid forward and threaten and again Holebas gets down the left with ease. He gets to the edge of the box and tries to slide a through ball for the run of Mitroglou, but he gets his pass all wrong and Kawashima is able to collect.
24 minJapan waste a good chance to whip a free kick into the box as Honda's delivery from the left is over-hit. The final ball in this game has been lacking so far, it just needs that extra bit of quality in the last third of the pitch.
26 minManiatis raids forward down the right and beats the challenge of Nagatomo. He tries to slide an effort across the face of goal, but Konno is able to make the intervention and Yamaguchi is able to hack the ball to safety.
28 minCHANCE! Japan win a free kick on the edge of the box and Honda stands over the ball. The AC Milan midfielder strikes the ball with power and forces Karnezis into making a save, which the keeper can't hold. Okazaki tries to latch onto the rebound, but the keeper is alive to the danger and punches the ball away from the striker.
30 minMitroglou takes a whack in the ribs as he goes up for the ball with Yoshida. He goes off to the sideline for treatment, but seems to be ok to continue.
32 minNagatomo has space in front of him down the left and he drives all the way into the final third of the pitch. The left-back digs out a cross and finds Osako in the middle, who guides a header just over the bar.
34 minSUBSTITUTION! Mitroglou is not ok to continue as he clutches his side as he goes off and is replaced by Gekas.
36 minA great intervention from Sokratis prevents Osako finding space in the box after Nagatomo again found a lot of space down the left and whipped a dangerous cross into the middle.
38 minRED CARD! Katsouranis is sent off for Greece. It's a disaster for Greece as he is booked for a challenge on Hasebe, minutes after receiving his first booking. Santos's side are down to 10 men and are without their captain.
40 minCHANCE! Greece have an excellent chance to take the lead a minute after being reduced to 10 men. Torosidis exchanges passes with Kone on the edge of the area and finds space for a shot just inside the box, but Kawashima does well to beat the ball away with firm hands.
42 minSUBSTITUTION: Greece make a tactical chance as Fetfatzidis is sacrificed and is replaced by Karagounis, who will slot into Katsouranis's position.
44 minCHANCE! Greece threaten again as Karagounis lifts a free kick from 40 yards into the box and Torosidis flicks the ball on, but his effort goes inches past the post from six yards out. The defender really should have done more with that opportunity.
11.52pmHalf time in Natal and not a lot of talking points bar the sending off of Greece captain Kostas Katsouranis for two bookable offences. Santos's side brought on Karagounis so it looks like they maybe shutting up shot for the rest of the game. Japan have had a few brief moments, but it hasn't been enough to yield a goal.
11.55pmGreece had a couple of decent opportunities before the break which both fell to Torosidis, who was unlucky to see his powerful effort saved by Kawashima while his second effort he really should have done better with. Osako has had his side's best moments when he fired just wide from 20 yards and also had an effort saved by Karnezis.
11.57pmIt will be interesting to see if Japan can take advantage of having the extra man in their side, but Greece are an excellent defensive outfit and it may take something special to break the deadlock this evening.
46 minRight from the kickoff Kone goes for an ambitious effort from the halfway line as he sees Kawashima advanced in his area, but his shot goes well wide of the target.
46 minSUBSTITUTION: One sub as the break as Hasebe can't play the full 90 minutes for the second game in a row and is replaced by Endo.
49 minAs expected Greece have dropped deep into their own half and are well and truly encamped on the edge of their area. They are quite happy to take a point from this game it seems.
51 minJapan win a free kick 30 yards from goal and Endo stands over the ball. The midfielder lifts a dangerous cross into the box but no played in blue can get on the end of it and the ball goes just wide of the post. Honda and Okazaki were a bit on their heels there.
53 minYELLOW CARD! Samaras goes into the book as he brings down Osako just outside the box and presents Japan with another chance to threaten.
54 minEndo takes the free kick and blasts his effort straight into the wall and Greece clear with ease. The quality has not been good to start the second half.
56 minSUBSTITUTION: Osako makes way for Japan despite an excellent first half and is replaced by Kagawa with 35 minutes left in the game.
59 minCHANCE! Greece win three corners on the bounce and with the third they manage to create a chance at goal as Gekas powers a header to the back post, but his effort is well saved by Kawashima who does well to get down low to turn the ball past the post.
61 minJapan are struggling to get a foot on the ball at the moment and they have seemed to lost their shape a little bit. They need a decent spell of possession to get themselves back on track, as Greece seem to be growing in confidence.
63 minThere are some very meaty challenges coming in here from both sides, but it seems to be only Greece that are getting the decisions at the moment. Some very questionable calls from the referee.
65 minKaragounis lifts a free kick into the box and Kawashima wipes out two players in the box to punch the ball to safety, and that allows Nagatomo to break upfield and his cross finds Honda outside the area. The midfielder can't bring the ball under control but is fouled 35 yards from goal and will have a chance to threaten with a free kick.
66 miinDisappointing effort from Honda as he blasts his shot straight into the wall and Nagatomo's cross from the left on the rebound is gathered with ease by Karnezis. Japan need to find a spark from somewhere, because their display in the second half has been poor to say the least.
68 minCHANCE! Japan should be ahead but Okubo somehow misses the target from close range as he blasts the ball over the bar. Kagawa produced a moment of magic to get Uchida behind the Greece defence and the full-back fired a ball across the face of goal for Okubo, but he wasn't able to find the net.
71 minCHANCE! Another glorious chance for Japan as Nagatomo lifts a cross into the box, Sokratis tries to clear for Greece but he can't get his feet sorted out and Uchida races onto the ball. The Schalke defender gets good contact on the ball, but his effort goes wide of the post.
74 minManolas makes an excellent tackle right on the edge of the box to dispossess Endo just as he was about to pull the trigger on a left-footed shot. The Greece centre-backs have been very good this evening.
76 minThere's no rhythm to this game at all, every time there's an attack there is a disruption of some sort which suits Greece very well. Kagawa wins a free kick and knocks the ball into the box, but the referee blows his whistle for a foul on Sokratis by Konno.
77 minCHANCE! Endo finds Okubo in space just outside the area and the forward lets fly with a powerful effort at goal which looks to be heading towards the bottom corner before Karnezis beats the ball away.
80 minSUBSTITUTION: Kone wins a corner for his side and is then replaced by Salpangidis. Another decent outing by Kone.
81 minCHANCE! Karagounis lifts the corner into the box and his delivery is right on the money for Samaras, who rises highest in the area, but he can't get the direction right on his effort and it goes wide.
83 minDecent opening for Japan as Kagawa finds space on the edge of the area and he plays a lovely ball out to Uchida on the right. The full-back fires a low cross into the middle, but no player in a blue shirt attacks the ball and Manolas boots the ball clear.
84 minJapan are upping the ante as we approach the final whistle. Nagatomo raids down the left and fakes the cross with his left foot to cut back on his right. He drives into the area and shoots, although his shot is off target it hits Yoshida and goes just over the bar.
86 minCHANCE! Greece commit men forward and Holebas gets in down the left and fires an effort towards the near post, but once again Kawashima is on hand to make the save.
87 minYELLOW CARD! Japan break upfield and Greece are short of numbers at the back. Okazaki tries to break into the box, but a handball from Sokratis stops the attack but gives them a free kick just outside the area.
88 minSAVE! Endo blasts his effort towards the bottom corner from 20 yards out, but Karnezis does well to get down low to palm the ball to safety. A solid stop from the Granada keeper.
90 + 2 minJapan are getting desperate now and are committing too many fouls in the area as they try to get on the end of crosses. Okazaki and Kagawa have both been guilty of giving these cheap free kicks away in the dying minutes.
12.56amWell that game was a bit poor. Greece get just what they want out of it though as despite being reduced to 10 men, they keep their hopes of reaching the second round alive albeit bleak ones at that. Japan just couldn't produce that bit of quality in the final third to unlock the defence and find the net, as Kostas Manolas and Sokratis Papastathopoulos put in excellent performances.
12.58amThis evening's draw between Greece and Japan means that Colombia have qualified for the second round of the tournament. Meaning that the Ivory Coast, Japan and Greece are locked in a three-way battle for the second spot. A win for either the Ivory Coast or Greece would put them through it Colombia draw or beat Japan, while the opposite could see Zaccheroni's men through. So there's still plenty to play for in Group C.
1amThanks for joining our commentary for this game. Be sure to stay with us later today for more World Cup action. But from me, it's goodbye.