Match No. 46 : Japan (0) vs Poland (1)
Stadium: Volgograd Arena, Volgograd
A draw from this game was going to be enough for Japan irrespective of the result of the other game of the group. And it showed, since they lacked the firepower to pose a real threat to the Polish side who were only slight favorites on the evening. A second half goal from Badnarek, was enough for Poland to salvage something from an unsuccessful World Cup campaign. After an action-less game, Japan went through only because they have received fewer yellow cards than Senegal. How many times has that happened in the history of the World cup?
13’: First chance of the game falls for Okazaki whose diving header goes well wide. Muto was the passer.
33’: Save by Kawashima! The Japanese keeper dives to his right and thwarts Groskicki’s header with his hand. A great chance and the save is equally good.
35’: Grosicki’s corner is dealt with easily by the Japanese defense. Kurzawa rushes into the box and hits it. It goes high and wide.
54’: Poland pour men forward as Zielinski has only the keeper between him and the goal. The goalkeeper is first to it.
58’: Usami with some fancy footwork is able to send in a cross but Glik is there to intercept.
60’: GOAL! Poland score. Straightaway at the other end after a Japan attack, Kurzawa takes a free kick. Bednarek gets at the end of it scores. As it stands, Japan will get knocked out and Colombia will go through. Japan need to score here.
69’: Chance for Poland again! They look like the side in contention for a place in the knockout stages here. Grosicki heads it wide, unaware that Lewandowski was ready to head it behind him.
73’: Yoshida with the header. It goes wide. Japan can’t seem to find the all important equalizer.
76’: Should have been 2 for Poland! What a chance! Two against two on the break for Poland and Grosicki does the right thing crossing it to Lewandowski. He slides toward the ball but it goes over.
78’: Colombia score to make life easier for Japan. The only thing separating the two teams is the tally of yellow cards received. They are level on goals scored as well as allowed.
Maya Yoshida (**): Had a chance to score but couldn’t head it in. Was solid at the back throughout the 90 minutes except for the time when Poland scored. Should have managed his defense better.
Robert Lewandowski (**): Spurned a chance to score the goal that could have doubled Poland’s lead. But he was always stretching on that one. A decent game by the forward in a game where they had nothing to play for.
Outstanding Player: On an evening when the attackers of Japan didn’t do much, their keeper Kawashima did his best to keep them in the game and salvage a draw. He was brave and solid but couldn’t do much to avoid the goal.
A very boring game to be honest. Japan should have responded with some urgency after conceding but that didn’t happen. Poland tried their best to play some attacking football despite having already been knocked out. But the game lacked any kind of breathtaking action.
A remarkable turn of events on the day saw Japan finish second in the group despite a defeat and poor performance on Matchday 3. They will face winners of group G i.e. Belgium.