Japan advances on yellow cards despite losing at World Cup

Japan advances on yellow cards despite losing at World Cup

Japan advances on yellow cards despite losing at World Cup

"However, it was a very tough and risky situation", Nishino told reporters.

The game petered out in the dying minutes in farcical circumstances with both Japan and Poland so happy with the result that they were content to let the Japanese play keep-ball in their own half.

With two fewer yellow cards, Japan's tally was better than Senegal, and though Nishino acknowledged his regrets in his postmatch news conference about the manner of Japan's progression, he did not apologise for the game's lifeless conclusion.

The African side were eliminated after their 1-0 defeat by Colombia despite finishing level with Japan on points, goal difference and goals scored.

The result means Japan reach the knockout phase for the third time in their six World Cups and with Nishino undoubtedly about to face some hard questions about his decisions for the match at a sweltering Volgograd Arena.

After disappointing defeats to Senegal and Colombia, Poland didn't appear too daunting a task for the hitherto undefeated Japan.

Finally at the hour mark, Poland were able to break the deadlock, with centre-back Jan Bednarek getting on the end of a long free kick and poking home an unlikely goal.

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Yoshinori Muto quickly proved he would not be the player whose inclusion was questioned when he was at the center of Japan's first two promising attacks.

"The manner in which the team qualified was not the initial goal", said Nishino afterward.

Poland had an early chance to take the lead in the 32nd minute when Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima stopped a header from Kamil Grosicki. 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.

On Saturday, Lukaku recorded a pair of goals for the second consecutive game - both Belgium victories - to become the first player to score multiple goals in consecutive World Cup matches since Argentina's Diego Maradona in 1986.

"I don't know if the regulation is cruel or not, but I can't ask my players to go on the pitch in order to avoid yellow cards, " Senegal coach Aliou Cisse said. "It worked against us".

Sure to have won no fans after this latest display, starting the tournament in a positive light, Japan will now enter the last-16 short of friends.

Shinji Okazaki has been included among six changes to Japan's starting lineup for its last World Cup group match against Poland.Coach Akira Nishino prefaced changes by speaking of the need to pick a team that can cope with the hot conditions in the Volgograd Arena.

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