Yuya Osako header gives Japan victory over Colombia after Sanchez sees red
World Cup Group H, Mordovia Arena – Colombia 1 (Quintero 39’) Japan 2 (Kagawa 6’ pen, Osako 73’)
An excellent second-half effort from Japan earned them a crucial victory against Colombia, whose hopes were ultimately ruined by the sending off of Carlos Sanchez after three minutes.
The moment which settled the match came on three minutes, when an error from Davinson Sanchez allowed Yuga Osako in on goal. David Ospina saved his shot, but the ball arrived into the path of Shinji Kagawa, whose shot was stopped by Carlos Sanchez, hurling himself in its way but connecting with an arm. He was duly dismissed and Kagawa easily despatched the penalty.
Colombia responded well to their adversity, moving the ball nicely, but Japan missed two great changes to effectively finish the game. But then, on 39 minutes, Radamel Falcao bought a free-kick and Juan Quintero bent a clever shot under the wall's jump for 1-1.
Going in for the break, Japan looked like a side contemplating potential embarrassment, but they emerged after it an entirely different team, passing the ball more quickly and aggressively. Colombia simply could not get out, and it was no surprise whatsoever when Osako scored what proved to be the winner, heading home a corner taken by the substitute, Keisuke Honda.
Colombia huffed and puffed thereafter, but Japan looked more likely to score a third than they did to find an equaliser.
Both Senegal and Poland - who meet later today - will fancy their chances of qualifying from this group which, with four teams committed to attack, looks like being a thriller. Group H is going to be a lot of fun.
James Rodriguez v JapanGetty Images
What was Jose Pekerman doing? Colombia responded well to going a goal and a man down, but when, in the second half, they could barely get a touch of the ball, Pekerman brought on James Rodriguez. He may be their best player, but it's hard to fathom how a player not given to running and not fit enough to start, could be expected to affect that circumstance given Radamel Falcao was also on the pitch.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Takashi Inui (Japan): A constant threat, when Japan upped the tempo in the second half, he was their most threatening and most effective player.
Takashi Inui (Japan) v Juan Cuadrado (Colombia) Getty Images
3’ - PENALTY JAPAN! RED CARD CARLOS SANCHEZ! Japan break and Davinson Sanchez lets the ball bounce, allowing Osako to hustle him out of it and run in on goal. Ospina gets out well to block, but the rebounds falls directly to the feet of Kagawa, who strokes in the opener ... only for Sanchez to hurl himself at it and stop with his arm and chest. I'm not sure a red card is needed as well as a penalty, and nor is he - it takes him a long old time to depart.
6’ - GOAL! Colombia 0-1 Japan (Kagawa pen). Kagawa waits for Ospina to dive right, then rolls the ball down the middle. Colombia are in a situation.
39’ - GOAL! Colombia 1-1 Japan (Quintero). Clever clever! I love this game! Quintero waits for the wall to jump, drives under it and inside the near post, then Kawashime scoops the ball out and protests but everyone knows it was in and the technology confirms the same. Excellent behaviour.
56’ - SHOVED AWAY! Arias crunches in on Inui and bousts forward with the ball. Inui thinks about fouling him but somehow manages to refrain, gets nowhere, and Japan attack again. They're finding space now, and Kagawa slides left to Inui, who comes inside, opens his body and curls towards the far corner. But he can't impart the necessary venom, and Ospina shoves away. Still, though, Japan are coming and Colombia are tottering.
73’ - CLOSE! Honda puts the ball into the box, where Osako is backing into Murillo. He tees up Sakai, who drives low ... it looks for all the world as though it's going in ... but Arias gets a toe in and the ball goes behind for a corner.
74’ - GOAL! Colombia 1-2 Japan (Osako). Honda clips in the corner and close to the front post, Osako is up first to flick home a header into the far top corner. Ospina, obviously, is nowhere.
78’ - WHAT A BLOCK! Lerma is persistent, chasing Nagatomo who's looking to clear close to touchline, robbing him, and backheeling a pass which puts James in! He swings a huge foot at it, but Osako dives in to deflect the ball over the top.
This is the first World Cup at which four South American nations have failed to win their first game since 1974.
Japan are the first Asian side to beat a South American side at a World Cup. The record is now P18 W1 D3 L14.