Japan advances on yellow cards despite losing at World Cup

World Cup 2018 Japan vs Poland Preview Japan Dream Of Round Of 16 As They Face Eliminated Poland

I'm not too happy about this but I forced my players to do what I said.

News of Colombia's goal saw Japan coach Akira Nishino make an odd tactical call as his side sat on their one-goal deficit, despite the risk of Senegal scoring decisively in Samara.

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

They also played to a 2-2 draw on Sunday.

Barcelona's Yerry Mina's goal in the 74th minute was the difference as the South American finished top of the group. Japan had four yellow cards in its three group matches while Senegal had six.

Japan and Senegal ended up tied for second in points, goal differential, goals for and goals against.

Poland, which had already been eliminated, got its goal from defender Jan Bednarek in the 59th minute. Everything seemed set for Japan to progress to the knockout stages - that is, until Jan Bednarek popped up completely unmarked to volley home from a free kick and put Poland in front.

"We are where we are and we know that we have failed the Polish football fans and ourselves", coach Adam Nawalka said. Japan, therefore, reached the round of 16 along with Colombia, with England or Belgium lying in wait.

But the first warning sign from the Poles came two minutes after the half-hour mark when Kamil Grosicki was left unmarked inside the box and sent a glancing header heading towards the far corner, only for Eiji Kawashima to recover well from a poor starting position to claw it away with a brilliant save. His cleverly directed header looked destined for the bottom corner until Kawashima made up huge amounts of ground to claw it to safety with a right hand at full stretch.

It's the first time since 1982 that no African team has advanced from the first round at the World Cup. The Senegalese side couldn't land the killer blow, and as full time blew in that game, Japan's spot in the Round of 16 was confirmed.

Poland have been one of the biggest disappointments of this World Cup, two years after reaching the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 where they went out on penalties to eventual champions Portugal and after finishing top of their qualifying group for the World Cup in Russian Federation.

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