A second-half goal from Osako saw Japan beat 10-man Colombia 2-1 in their thrilling 2018 FIFA World Cup Group H encounter on Tuesday afternoon.
Full Time: Colombia 1-2 Japan
Date: 19 June 2018
Venue: Mordovia Arena
The match got off to a flyer when Colombia midfielder Carlos Sanchez received a straight red card in the third minute, following a deliberate handball in the box to deny Japan from scoring.
Borussia Dortmund star Shinji Kagawa put his country ahead from the spot-kick with a clam finish, despite goalkeeper David Ospina’s attempts to put him off.
The Colombians did not seem to be too rattled after going down to ten men, and almost found an equaliser through the 32-year-old Radamel Falcao, who made his World Cup debut.
The striker got on the end of a curling cross 12 minutes into the clash, but Japan shot-stopper Kawashima was not troubled by the shot.
Colombia continued to enjoy the lion’s share of possession for the next 10 minutes, before Falcao found himself in on goal once more nine minutes before half-time. The Monaco forward was again unable to trouble the Japanese goalkeeper, with his tame effort finding its way comfortably into Eiji Kawashima hands
Three minutes later, however, the South Americas finally found the breakthrough when Juan Quintero scored with a superb free-kick. The midfielder’s struck the ball under Japan’s jumping ball, beating the diving goalkeeper at the near post. It first appeared as though the goalkeeper had kept the ball out, but replays clearly showed the ball crossing the line.
The teams went into the break with the score at 1-1, but the start of the second half was dominated by Japan. The Blue Samurais looked dangerous going forward, but were not yet doing quite enough in the final third.
2014 World Cup hero James Rodriguez was introduced in the 60th minute to the loud roars of thousands of Colombian fans inside the stadium, and immediately looked to make things happen for his country.
Japan, however, regained their lead just 13 minutes later through a headed effort from Yuya Osako, who got on the end of a delightful cross from Honda. The AC Milan had made his way on to the field just three minutes prior to the goal, and his impact was instant.
Rodriguez has a great chance to equalise for Colombia in the 78th minute, but Osako, rather surprisingly, made an incredible last-ditch block in the box.
The match ended with Japan taking all three points against their Group H opponents, who might have had a batter chance with eleven players on the field.