Japan off to a bright start in Group H after beating ten-man Colombia

Japan off to a bright start in Group H after beating ten-man Colombia
Makoto Hasebe (C) of Japan celebrates winning the FIFA World Cup 2018 group H

by Phumzile Ngcatshe

Tuesday Jun 19, 2018. 16:17

Japan defeated Colombia 2-1 in their opening Group H match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Tuesday afternoon at Mordovia Arena in Saransk.

Japan had a wonderful opportunity to take the lead in the third minute, but Colombia’s Carlos Sanchez handled the ball in the box and consequently he was red carded in an attempt to block a shot at goal.

The referee also pointed to the spot and Shinji Kagawa raised his hand to convert, beating David Ospina in the sixth minute, 1-0.

Colombia tried to mount a comeback which sawRadamel Falcao fouled on the edge of the area in the 38th minute which allowed Juan Quintero to score from a clever low free kick under the Japanese wall, 1-1.

Both sides were deadlocked at the interval.

Fresh from the break, the Samurai Blue came back and improved their attack as Ospina was called to produce two crucial saves in the opening minutes of the stanza.

Yuya Osako would regain the lead for Japan in the 73rd minute following a corner kick which the Los Cafeteros failed to deal with – Osako was unmarked and headed home at the far post making it 2-1.

The Japanese stood firm at the back despite a number of attacks as they bagged their first win in the group.

Colombia: (1) 1 (Quintero 39’)
Japan: (1) 2 (Kagawa 6’, Osako 73’)

Colombia: Ospina, O. Murillo, Arias, C. Sanchez, Falcao, Cuadrado (Barrios 31’), J. Lerma, J. Mojica, J. Quintero (Rodriguez 59’), Izquierdo (Bacca 70’), D. Sanchez

Japan: Kawashima, Shoji, Nagatomo, Shibasaki (Yamaguchi 79’), Haraguchi, Kagawa (Honda 69’), Inui, Osako (Okazaki 85’), Hasebe, Sakai, Yoshida

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