A pulsating start to Group H ended in what can only be described as a shock result: three points and a win for Japan after the game finished 2-1
The first round of the 2018 World Cup has seen Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Spain and Argentina all fail to win three points; now Colombia must be added to this list. The game was a perfect example of how football is won on the pitch- not on paper. The team sheet would initially indicate a Colombia win as they have the better players, but football is won with 11 players. Japan excellently demonstrated this through a resilient performance that provided another upset.
Ospina started in goal, with Arias, Davinson Sanchez, Murillo and Mojica in defence. Colombia opted for Lerma, Carlos Sanchez, Cuadrado and Quintero in midfield with Izquierdo supporting Falcao upfront.
Meanwhile for Japan, Kawashima started in goal with Sakai, Yoshida, Shoji and Nagatomo in defence. Shibasaki, Hasebe, Haraguchi, Kagawa and Inui started in midfield and Osako played as the lone striker up top.
The opening 45 minutes were dramatic to say the least. An undeniable handball in the box from Carlos Sanchez emerged fter Davinson Sanchez failed to clear the ball in the edge of his own half. Former Red Devil Shingi Kagawa stepped up to take the penalty and scored from 6 yards in the 6th minute.
Colombia then responded, as most expected, towards the latter stages of the first half with a goal from Quintero in the 39th minute.
The two teams re-entered the field at 1-1 with all to play. James Rodriguez came on in the 59th minute for Colombia and had a glorious chance to put his country ahead but his shot was blocked by following excellent defending from the Japanese.
The previous games from round 1 of this World Cup have demonstrated the importance of taking your chances.as Japan did just that in the 73rd minute. Osako scored the winner though Japan were made to cling on.
PLAYER RATINGS: COLOMBIA
Davinson Sanchez: 5/10
Carlos Sanchez: 4.5/10
PLAYER RATINGS: JAPAN
Kawashima: 6.5/ 10
MAN OF THE MATCH: Osako
Match winner who earned Japan three well-deserved points after his strike in the 73rd minute
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE COLOMBIA?
A shock opening defeat means its all to play for in arguably their hardest match in Group H against Poland. This is set up for a fascinating 90 minutes of football whereby Colombia will have to improve in every department if they want to mount a serious chance of winning.
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE JAPAN?
Three points would be certainly more than Japan would have bargained for, especially given their 4-1 defeat to Colombia four years ago. But they’ll gladly take the points nonetheless. They’ve given themselves a great chance of qualifying for the next round which would be guaranteed if they can beat Senegal.