MX23RW : Sunday, July 25 19:24:06| >> :600:882759:882759:
Jun 28, 2018 at 3pm UK at Volgograd Arena
Attendance: 42,189
JapanJapan
0-1
Poland
FT(HT: 0-0)
Bednarek (59')

Live Commentary: Japan 0-1 Poland - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's live coverage as Japan qualify for the last 16 of the World Cup, despite losing to Poland in Thursday's Group H clash in Volgograd.
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Japan have earned a place in the last 16 of the World Cup, despite succumbing to a 1-0 defeat to Poland in Thursday's match in Volgograd.

A second-half strike from Jan Bednarek proved to be the only goal of the fixture, which descended into farce after Colombia went ahead in the other game.

Japan were aware that a one-goal defeat would see them progress courtesy of having earned fewer yellow cards than Senegal, and it lead to this Group H contest ending without incident.

Find out how all of the action unfolded in Russia courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates below.


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Hello and welcome to Sports Mole's live coverage of the World Cup encounter between Japan and Poland. The latter have already been eliminated from this competition but a draw for Japan will be enough to secure a place in the last 16.

Before we move on to the permutations, facts and figures, let's take a look at the two starting lineups, beginning with Japan...

JAPAN XI: Kawashima; H.Sakai, Yoshida, Makino, Nagatomo; Yamaguchi, Shibasaki; G.Sakai, Okazaki, Usami; Muto

POLAND XI: Fabianski; Bereszynski, Glik, Bednarek, Jedrzejczyk; Krychowiak, Goralski, Grosicki, Zielinski, Kurzawa; Lewandowski

Let's take a look at the Japan side and surprisingly, Akira Nishino has opted to make as many as six changes. The most notable inclusion is that of Leicester City's Shinji Okazaki, who will seemingly lead the attack in place of Yuya Osako, who is only on the bench.

Keisuke Honda had been in contention to come into the team but the 32-year-old starts among the replacements for the third game in succession. Takashi Inui impressed and scored against Senegal but he too finds himself on the bench.

Shinji Kagawa is another so-called star man to miss out. The former Manchester United player has not necessarily impressed in this tournament but he is an experienced figure and the 29-year-old's exclusion comes as a surprise. Hotaru Yamaguchi and Yoshinori Muto have come into the team.

Gen Shoji, Makoto Haseb and Genki Haraguchi have also lost their role in the side, with Gotoku Sakai, Tomoaki Makino and Takashi Usami being included. It's a bold move from Nishino.

As for Poland, Nawalka has also decided to ring the changes with the coach opting to switch as many as five players. Robert Lewandowski remains in the team, however, as he searches for his first World Cup goal.

There is a change in goal as Lukasz Fabianski is given the opportunity to feature in place of Wojciech Szczesny, while Kamil Glik is given his first start at the tournament after a shoulder injury with Michal Pazdan dropping out of the defence.

Artur Jedrzejczyk begins the game at left-back with Maciej Rybus missing out, and he is joined on the bench by both Lukasz Piszczek and Dawid Kownacki.

Midfield pair Kamil Grosicki and Rafal Kurzawa have both been introduced into the first XI. Grosicki did well against Senegal in the opening game but found himself dropped, while Kurzawa wins just his fourth cap on the left flank.

After picking up four points from games against Colombia and Senegal, Japan have put themselves in a position where a draw will be enough to secure their progress. It may not be enough to finish in first place but the Asian nation would surely be content with just making the last 16.

Senegal and Colombia meet in the other match with Senegal also just a point away from securing their spot in the knockout stages. Colombia require a victory but given the manner that they dispatched Poland on Sunday, the South Americans are the favourites.

Japan are competing at their sixth successive World Cup - and in their history - but they have only come through the group stages without suffering defeat on one occasion, back when they were co-hosts in 2002.

However, Japan do not possess a great record when it comes to facing European opposition at the tournament. They have failed to score in four of their last five games on this stage, although one win and two draws have been recorded.

In general, Japan do not possess the greatest World Cup record. Just four wins and four draws have coming from 17 matches, although they do have two last-16 finishes to their name.

Honda's goal in the previous match ensured that he became the first Japanese player to score at three different World Cups. Honda also needs just one goal to become the fourth highest goalscorer in his nation's history.

He has some way to go to match teammate Okazaki, however. The Leicester City man has 50 goals for Japan, in comparison to 37 strikes for Honda. The pair could make the difference between qualification and elimination.

Poland had been tipped to progress from this group but it hasn't turned out how they would have hoped. They still have something to play for though. A Poland side has not failed to win a game at the World Cup since 1938!

They have now suffered three group-stage exits in a row, however. It is a poor return from a team who have always been regarded as solid with a bit of quality in attack.

Poland have only ever faced an Asian nation on one occasion at a World Cup. That came against co-hosts South Korea in 2002, with Poland losing out to the eventual semi-finalists by a 2-0 scoreline.

Nawałka will want to end the nation's poor defensive record at World Cups today. It has been 10 games and 32 years since a clean sheet was recorded, with that coming against Portugal in 1986.

PREDICTION! Difficult one to call, this. Poland are the stronger team on paper but have yet to show any form at this tournament. Japan are playing with motivation and pressure and that may lead to a nervy 1-1 draw.

HEAD TO HEAD! Thursday's fixture will represent just the third time that these two teams have squared off with Japan prevailing in both matches!

In 1996, Japan recorded a dominant 5-0 win in the Carlsberg Cup in Hong Kong. It appears that Poland may have played a bit of a weakened team, however.

The most recent clash occurred in 2002, ahead of the World Cup. Goals from Hidetoshi Nakata and Naohiro Takahara secured a 2-0 victory for Japan in Lodz.

Before kickoff, a reminder that you can also follow the game at the Samara Arena. We will keep you up-to-date with any goals between Senegal and Colombia but if you wish to follow the game in full, you can do so by clicking here.

It's time for the two teams to make their way out in Volgograd. This was the setting of England's game with Tunisia and is regarded as one of the hottest parts of Russia at this time. It's currently 36C!

A reminder of the two starting lineups...

JAPAN XI: Kawashima; H.Sakai, Yoshida, Makino, Nagatomo; Yamaguchi, Shibasaki; G.Sakai, Okazaki, Usami; Muto

POLAND XI: Fabianski; Bereszynski, Glik, Bednarek, Jedrzejczyk; Krychowiak, Goralski, Grosicki, Zielinski, Kurzawa; Lewandowski


KICKOFF! Poland get us underway!

It takes Japan just 35 seconds to breach the offside trap but Fabianski comes out to meet the ball ahead of Muto. Poland go straight up the other end and win a corner which comes to nothing. Positive start!

It appears that Poland have started with a 3-4-3. The starting lineup had initially suggested four at the back but that isn't the case. They have plenty of possession in these early stages.

That's what Poland remain focused on here. They are just looking to keep hold of the ball and frustrate a Japan side who look like they want to chase them down.

Still no shots to speak of but Poland continue to show the more ambition. Japan aren't being negative but it is a case of wait and see what Poland do before committing too many men forward.

It makes you wonder whether the temperature has influenced Nishino's decision regarding his team today. There must be a logical reason as to why he has made six changes and that is surely it. Japan just managed to get a cross into the box but it was over-hit and Poland have a throw-in.

CHANCE! Better from Japan. Muto should shoot but takes too much time on the ball. However, he tees up Nagatomo for the cross and his cross to the near post is headed wide by Okazaki.

SHOT! Japan are starting to click into gear. Muto is in the thick of it again and the forward's low shot from 20 yards is diverted away from goal by Fabianski.

Lewandowski has not done a whole lot during the opening quarter-of-an-hour but the forward sees a shot blocked on the edge of the area.

It's Japan's turn to have some time on the ball. They have previously taken the direct route but they probably need a breather given the pace that they have started to play this game.

The same pattern continues with Poland happy to sit back for the time being. Poland have lost the edge that they started this game with.

Just like that, Poland string a couple of passes together and an outstanding cross from Grosicki needs to be headed behind for a corner by Hiroki Sakai.

UPDATE! There has been a bit of drama in the other game. Senegal thought they had won a penalty but VAR got involved and the referee went back on his original decision. It remains goalless.

It hasn't been the most entertaining 25 minutes of the World Cup but neither team are necessarily playing within themselves. It's just not gelled and the temperature of 36C needs to be taken into consideration.

Japan are having success when they put Poland under pressure in the final third. Gotoku Sakai just whipped in a cross towards the back post and it needs to be headed behind for a corner.

After the referee makes his point about grappling, the set piece comes to nothing with Bednarek heading clear.

There are a few whistles in the stands. The fans must be trying to entertain themselves. Criticism at this stage would be a bit harsh, although it remains largely uneventful in Volgograd.

CHANCE! Poland create the best chance of the game with Grosicki being found around 12 yards from goal. The Hull City winger turns well to direct a header towards the bottom corner but Kawashima pulls off an excellent one-handed save to his right.

Japan take the chance to - once again - spend some time on the ball in their own half. That Poland opportunity came out of nothing and Japan now want time to recompose themselves.

SHOT! Then they surge forward and work Fabianski. It's a speculative effort from Usami who tries to beat the goalkeeper from an acute angle but Fabianski is forced to punch away his low strike across goal.

This game is starting to liven up. Maybe it was the whistling from the stands? Poland win another corner and although it is only half-cleared, Kurzawa's volley from 20 yards is never threatening the goal.

Back come Japan as Gotoku Sakai runs down the right and crosses towards Okazaki, but the ball is diverted wide for a corner. Nothing comes from the set piece.

Japan win another corner - this time from the right - but Makino mis-times his header and the chance is gone. Just the four minutes to go until the break. I cannot wait...

Poland are back on the ball and are content to spray the ball about at the back. These whistles are definitely aimed at the intent being shown by Poland. It may even be from their own supporters!

There will be one minute of added-on time.

HALF TIME: Japan 0-0 Poland

The half-time whistle goes in Volgograd and we remain goalless. There have been a couple of chances but not enough, especially as far as Poland are concerned. As it stands, Japan are going through and they will probably be satisfied with how things are going.

Japan have forced Fabianski into a couple of saves but nothing which the new West Ham United signing should not be dealing with. Muto and Usami were the players to produce the speculative efforts from long range and an acute angle respectively.

As for Poland, their only real opportunity came through Grosicki and with his head rather than his feet. However, the winger watched on as Kawashima clawed his effort away from the bottom corner. Half of the ball had been over the line.

The other game remains goalless as well but there surely has to be a goal in one of these matches. Colombia, in particular, will be pushing forward against Senegal after the break.

KICKOFF! Japan get us back underway.

SUBSTITUTION! Okazaki is coming off for Japan with a knock. Osako has been brought on in his place.

Well things haven't improved yet. Poland are playing just above a walking pace and Japan are conserving their energy in the event that it is required later.

The only way that this match improves is if Poland can find a goal. I mentioned earlier that neither team were playing within themselves but that is exactly what Japan are doing, even more so now that they have already been forced into a substitution.

Usami does well on the left and he only has eyes on getting a shot on goal. The midfielder drifts inside onto his right foot but his strike is blocked by a defender.

It's all Japan as far as possession is concerned. Rather than the shackles being lifted, Poland seem more intent on avoiding another defeat than pressing for a consolation win.

Muto gets on the end of a long ball after beating the offside trap and it leads to a cross being delivered from the byline. However. A defender gets in the way and diverts the ball away for a corner, which comes to nothing.

GOAL! Japan 0-1 Poland (Jan Bednarek)

Where did this come from?! Kurzawa curls in a free kick from a deep position and Bednarek is there - unmarked - to volley inside the back post from around six yards out. As it stands, Japan are going out!

Japan will surely show more ambition now. They have gone from a comfortable position to having to chase this game. It won't be long before we see Honda.

To their credit, they have reacted in a positive manner but Glik is beginning to act as a one-man wall. No sign of any alterations just yet.

SUBSTITUTION! Maybe there is. On comes Inui, with the Real Betis winger replacing Usami.

BOOKING! The first yellow card of the game goes to Makino, who is cautioned for bringing down Lewandowski. It's a bit harsh.

Grosicki is liking his headers today. The winger gets into the centre of the penalty area again but glances his attempt a few yards wide of the far post.

Inui gets on the ball for the first time and looks set to deliver a threatening cross into the middle, but his inswinging attempt goes over everyone and out for a goal kick.

I don't think that Fabianski has been forced into a save in this half. Japan are struggling to create anything significant in the final third and still haven't introduced Honda.

CHANCE! Maybe this was the chance. An inswinging corner finds the run of Yoshida but the centre-back directs his header wide of the far post. He should have done better.

CHANCE! Lewandowski should double Poland's advantage. Grosicki gets down the right and delivers the perfect low cross for the forward, but the Bayern Munich frontman sweeps the ball over the crossbar from 12 yards.

UPDATE! Colombia have taken the lead over Senegal! That means that as it stands, Colombia are progressing as group winners, with Japan going through in second place courtesy of fewer yellow cards.

SUBSTITUTIONS! Poland are going to make a double change with Teodorczyk and Peszko being introduced for Kurzawa and Zielinski.

Japan are really struggling to get anything going from open play. Poland are cruising and playing the ball about for fun. Hasebe - not Honda or Kagawa - is being readied by Nishino.

SUBSTITUTION! Off goes Muto as well - one of the more attacking players! Very weird change from Japan.

Japan genuinely look done here. They have nine men behind the ball and there is no urgency to go for it. They are taking a risk by settling for a draw. If Senegal score, they are out!

This has descended into somewhat of a farce but Japan are doing what they need to do. Nothing is happening and Poland are happy to play their part. There are boos from the crowd.

It remains as you were. Still no more developments between Colombia and Senegal. Colombia still lead and are heading through as group winners.

There will be three minutes of added-on time. I'd say that they are pretty irrelevant. More boos from the paying supporters.

Four minutes have been added on in the other game, meaning that this fixture will finish first. Who knows, that may not help Japan.

FULL TIME: Japan 0-1 Poland

The full-time whistle goes in Volgograd and Poland have registered a 1-0 win. However, Japan still progress through to the last 16 courtesy of picking up fewer yellow cards than Senegal, with the two teams having finished level on points. The ending to this game was bizarre, but it has all worked out for Japan.

That will be all from Sports Mole's coverage of this match. Thank you for joining us today and we hope to see you again for the end of Group G later this evening.

If you would like to read our on-the-whistle match report, you can do so by clicking here. Goodbye for now.


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