Japan 2-1 winners over 10-man Colombia
Japan 2 (Kagawa 6′ pen., Osaka 73′)
Colombia 1 (Quintero 39′)
By Jacob Howard
It took Colombia only three minutes to receive the first red card of tournament, leaving them with only ten players to take on Japan in their World Cup opener in Saransk.
Japan looked to dominate over Colombia the entire match with them boasting much better statistics than Colombia and man-of-the-match performance and goal in the 73rd minute by striker Yuya Osako gave Japan the edge they needed to take the victory.
It wasn’t enough for Japan that Carlos Sanchez got sent off in the third minute of the game for blocking a shot with his arm, Shinji Kagawa had to rub salt into Colombia’s wounds by kicking the penalty.
Colombia’s captain Radamel Falcao tried desperately to get his side back into contention flying through the air to strike a chip kick but was easily saved by goal-keeper Eiji Kawashima.
Kawashima was almost able to keep out a free-kick that was taken by Juan Quintero in the 39th minute, but the ball managed to go under the wall and just make it past the goal-line giving Colombia the break they desperately needed.
World Cup 2014 Golden Boot Winner James Rodriguez was brought in early in the second half at the 59th minute by Jose Pekerman but the experienced Japan defence was able to keep him from making a game-changing performance.
A frantic save by Colombian goal-keeper David Ospina saw him at full stretch to stop a right foot curler by Takashi Inu
With Japan dominating possession and shots it took its toll on the Colombian defence when a well-placed corner by substitute Keisuke Honda led Osako to leap over his man and head the ball past Ospina in the 73rd minute.
Pekerman’s last real hope came as Rodriguez got his first opportunity in the box but the shot sailed over the cross bar without threatening the goal.
Japan look to continue their good form when they take on Senegal and Colombia will hope to turn theirs around when they face Group H favourites Poland.
Shots (on target)
Japan: 11 (6)
Colombia 4 (3)
Japan: 1 Kawashima (GK), 3 Shoji, 5 Nagatomo, 7 Shibasaki (80′), 8 Haraguchi, 10 Kagawa (70′), 14 Inui, 15 Osako (85′), 17 Hasebe (C), 19 H. Sakai, 22 Yoshida
Substitutes: 2 Ueda, 4 Honda (70′), 6 Endo, 9 Okazaki (85′), 11 Usami, 12, Higashiguchi (GK), 13 Muto, 16 (80′), 18 Ohshima, 20 Makino, 21 G. Sakai, 23 Nakamura (GK)
Colombia: 1 Ospina (GK), 3 Murillo, 4 Arias, 6 C.Sanchez (red card 3′), 9 Falcao (C), 11 Juan Cuadrado (31′), 16 Lerma, 17 Mojica, 20 Quintero (59′), 21 Izquierdo (70′), 23 D. Sanchez
Substitutes: 2 C. Zapata, 5 Barrios (32′), 7 Bacca (70′), 8 Aguilar, 10 Rodriguez (59′), 12 Vargas, 13 Mina, 14 Muriel, 15 Uribe, 18 Diaz, 19 Borja, 22 Jo Cuadrado