Published: Sat, June 30, 2018
Sport | By Patty Hardy

Japan v Poland 28 June 2018

Japan v Poland 28 June 2018

The Polish will do everything they can to make life hard for Japan, as Robert Lewandowski, the leading marksman in European qualification, attempts to score his first goal at Russian Federation 2018.

So Japan goes through and next plays the victor of Group G on Monday, while Colombia will face the Group G runner-up Tuesday.

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

He said his decision to make six changes to his side was down to fatigue rather than any attempt to play for a draw.

Still, Japanese fans were left toasting goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, who in the first half made a spectacular save that denied Kamil Grosicki's header and also prevented a Japanese own goal after the break. "It's the World Cup, and sometimes these things can't be avoided", he said after the game. "We're facing Japan, we've got to be ready for it".

Nishino made six changes to the starting lineup ahead of the match, saying some of his players were worn out.

Gary Lineker, analysing the highlights of the match following Colombia's win over Senegal, echoed the sentiments of most football fans by saying: "This surely goes against what the game stands for".

An utterly poor display by the Polish saw them beaten 3-0, with their talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski registering 0 goals in 2 World Cup matches, after scoring 16 goals in the World Cup Qualifiers.

"There is no doubt that our next opponents are going to be stronger than us, " Japan defender Yuto Nagatomo said before the foe was known. That resulted in the rarely-used fair play rule to determine which team advanced.

Cisse said it was "sad" and a "shame" for Senegal to go out in such a way, and conceded that maybe his players had been too committed in their tackling. "It worked against us".

In what ought to have been a moment of triumph for Japan's national team, the head coach Akira Nishino has come under scrutiny for the liberties he took with his side's qualification hopes, and the methods he employed in the closing minutes of their tie with Poland to ensure a place in the last-16 for his side.

In their only previous meeting with an Asian team in the World Cup, Poland lost 2-0 against South Korea in 2002.

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