Japan survive despite loss to Poland

Japan survive despite loss to Poland

The Japanese knew that with Senegal losing by the same margin to Colombia they would go through to the round of 16 ahead of the Africans.

Ryu Kuroda, a 30-year-old from Tokyo who was also in the Russian city, said he understood it as a tactic but that he "wanted to see Japan score". "However, it was a very tough and risky situation", said Nishino.

Poland were playing for nothing but pride, and were put on the back foot by Japan who pushed the ball forward and applied most of the pressure in the early stages of the match. Despite the loss, Japan advanced to a round-of-16 match against Belgium because it received fewer yellow cards than Senegal, which lost to Colombia by the same score at the same time.

"Of course, we would prefer to be eliminated another way".

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

"I decided that I was going to rely on the other match's result".

The jeers that rained down on Japan during their 1-0 defeat by Poland in Volgograd may suggest otherwise, but the Samurai Blue's unedifying decision to wind down the clock and forgo the push for an equaliser had "fair play" at its heart. "It's the World Cup, and sometimes these things can't be avoided", he said after the game.

"I would like to play both of them because they will pose a fantastic challenge for us".

Japan lacked their usual fluency and Eiji Kawashami's superb sprawling save from Kamil Grosicki was the highlight of a dour first half, with goalline technology confirming the header did not cross the line.

With 20 minutes to play, Poland launched a quick counter attack and Robert Lewandowski was handed a chance to kill the game off, but blasted his shot over the bar.

Senegal, however, has become the first victim of the new tiebreaker.

Poland appeared uninterested in pushing forward too, apparently content with registering their sole win at Russian Federation 2018 but the ending to the game left a odd taste in the mouth of its audience.

Despite farcical scenes in which Japan moved the ball back and forth on halfway while a Polish player was down injured, it paid off as Senegal could not rescue a point, sending the fortunate Samurai Blue through.

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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