Japan advance on yellow cards despite losing to Poland

Japan advance on yellow cards despite losing to Poland

Japan advance on yellow cards despite losing to Poland

The Japanese, barely playing for the final 15 minutes of the match, lost to Poland 1-0 Thursday.

Japan became the first team to qualify from the World Cup group stages via fair play rankings despite a 1-0 defeat to Poland in which Akira Nishino bizarrely made six changes to an unbeaten team.

On a burning afternoon that saw several twists in the plot, Japan somehow set up a meeting with either Belgium or England by virtue of a goal scored 640km away in Samara and because they received two yellow cards fewer than Senegal.

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Southampton defender Jan Bednarek's well-taken volley following Rafal Kurzawa's free-kick won the match for Poland, who were already eliminated. The game again settled into a pattern with Japan looking to attack, but never quite in control and were punished just before the hour when Jan Bednarek side-footed home a free kick from close range, getting the better of his Southampton teammate Yoshida in the process.

When Bednarek scored, Japan was facing elimination.

Meanwhile Poland winger, Kamil Grosiki admits their time in Russian Federation has been a struggle, but they must try and recover some pride in their final game after losing 2-1 to Senegal, before being totally outplayed by the Colombians.

Winger Kamil Grosicki forced Eiji Kawashima into a smart save with a header, and Tomoaki Mikono nearly diverted a cross into his own net late on.

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Japan will play the winners of Group G - either England or Belgium - in Rostov-on-Don on Monday July 2.

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For the Poles, only pride is at stake in Thursday's final Group H match in Volgograd against a confident Japan side who need a point to advance into the knockout phase. There was nothing else to choose between the two teams after three matches in Group G, but the Samurai Blue did not do themselves any favours in their final first-round outing.

"We are where we are and we know that we have failed the Polish football fans and ourselves", coach Adam Nawalka said.

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has used the disciplinary points rule for several years, but FIFA just introduced it in 2016. Japan has not performed that well at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, as goal-keeper Eiji Kawashima has made costly errors in consecutive matches.

A total of 32 national football teams entered the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which is held in 11 cities across Russian Federation between June 14 and July 15, and only 16 of them proceeded to the knockout stage.

Japan captain Makoto Hasebe said, "Japan are not the kind of team that can aim for a point and go and carry [a negative] plan out".

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