Japan booed off after losing to Poland but reaching last 16

Marcus Newton
June 30, 2018

Bednarek's goal gave his side a deserved win and it could have been two - which would have eliminated Japan - if star striker Robert Lewandowski had not missed a glorious second-half chance.

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

Senegal, who lost 1-0 to Colombia, ended up level on points, goal difference and goals scored with Japan so the teams were separated by the tie-break rule introduced at this World Cup for the first time.

The Blue Samurai were enjoying the most of the possession in the early stages, while Shinji Okazaki threatened the Poland goal in the opening 10 minutes.

Coming into this afternoon's games sitting atop Group H, anything other than a defeat to Poland would have guaranteed Japan their place in the next round. "I am not too happy about this, but I forced my players to do what I said. It's the World Cup, and sometimes these things can't be avoided", he said after the game.

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.

Senegal's six yellow cards to Japan's four ultimately cost the African side, which exits Russian Federation in disappointing circumstances.

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Then, Mexicans at the game - and around the world - cheered wildly when South Korea scored its first goal. Mexico, having beaten Germany and South Korea , will take on the victor of Group E in the next round.

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"We want to win the game, that would mean we would top the group, and we play who we play in the next round", Southgate added. Tomorrow we want to perform well but the priority is not to win.

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 global goal.

"It was the right decision", said Taiga Izumi, an 18-year-old university student from Tokyo, who watched the match in Volgograd. The Belgians made nine changes from their previous match while the English switched eight players. Scampering across his goal before diving, Kawashima clawed the ball to safety just before it had crossed the line.

Akira Nishino's team finished second in Group H and will face Group G winners Belgium in the first knockout round.

Robert Lewandowski then had a chance to put Poland ahead 2-0 _ a result that would have allowed Senegal to advance _ in the 74th minute after a swift counterattack but his effort flew over the bar.

Poland coach Adam Nawalka said his team proved they were not quitters by winning their first game at a World Cup since they beat Costa Rica in Germany in 2006.

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

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