MX23RW : Wednesday, September 26 01:44:49
Jun 28, 2018 at 3pm UK at ​Volgograd Arena
Attendance: 42,189
JapanJapan
0-1
Poland

Makino (66')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Bednarek (59')

Result: Japan reach last 16 of World Cup despite Poland defeat

Result: Japan reach last 16 despite Poland defeat
© Reuters
Japan progress through to the last 16 of the World Cup despite suffering a 1-0 defeat to Poland in Thursday's clash in Volgograd.

Japan have progressed through to the last 16 of the World Cup, despite losing to Poland in Thursday's World Cup clash in Volgograd.

A second-half goal from Jan Bednarek ensured that Poland ended the tournament with a consolation win, but Japan still qualify for the knockout stages due to earning fewer yellow cards than Senegal.

Japan finished level on points with Senegal after the African nation's 1-0 defeat to Colombia - who qualify as winners of Group H - but Japan go through as runners-up.

The game began in temperature in the mid-thirties but while the conditions undoubtedly contributed to an uneventful opening 45 minutes, neither side made a sustained effort to open the scoring.

Japan created two chances in the space of 60 seconds with Shinji Okazaki heading wide at the near post and Yoshinori Muto seeing a low shot from 20 yards well dealt with by Lukasz Fabianski.

However, both teams quickly reverted back to possession football at the back and it was not long before the crowd began to voice their frustration with whistles coming from the stands.

Poland responded by creating their only significant chance of the first half with Kamil Grosicki seeing an excellent header clawed away from the bottom corner by Eiji Kawashima.

Japan responded with Takashi Usami having a shot from an acute angle pushed away by Fabianski but the teams went into half time to a chorus of whistles, which appeared to be from the Poland fans.

After the restart, Japan showed the more attacking intent without creating a clear-cut opening and Poland made them pay by taking a surprise lead on the hour mark.

From a deep position, Rafal Kurzawa curled a free kick towards the back post and Bednarek was waiting to volley the ball inside the near post from six yards out for his first international goal.

The goal led to Japan being relegated to third position in the group and although the Asian nation began to up the tempo, they struggled to create clear-cut opportunities with only Maya Yoshida going close with a header from a corner.

Up the other end, Robert Lewandowski should have doubled Poland's advantage when being found by Grosicki, but the Bayern Munich frontman swept the ball over the crossbar from 10 yards out.

However, a goal for Colombia over Senegal changed the situation with Japan being able to go through in second place courtesy of fewer yellow cards and it led to Japan showing very little ambition to try to score a goal due to a second Poland strike changing the group once again.

The closing stages of the game descended into farce with both teams happy to play the ball about with little pressure being applied and it paid off for Japan, who reach this stage of the World Cup for the third time in their history.

JAPAN (4-5-1): Kawashima; H Sakai, Yoshida, Makino, Nagatomo; Yamaguchi, Shibasaki; G Sakai, Okazaki (Osako 47'), Usami (Inui 65'); Muto (Hasebe 82')

POLAND (4-5-1): Fabianski; Bereszynski, Glik, Bednarek, Jedrzejczyk; Krychowiak, Goralski, Grosicki, Zielinski (Teodorczyk 79'), Kurzawa (Peszko 80'); Lewandowski

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Japan manager Akira Nishino on May 30, 2018
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