Early red card dooms Colombia in 2-1 loss to Japan
- Author: Angelo Rivera Jun 20, 2018,
Jun 20, 2018, 7:51
With Japan rotating between the Werder Bremen forward, Mainz's Yoshinori Muto and Leicester's Shinji Okazaki as the lone target man in their warm-up matches, Osako's 73rd-minute victor showed he was the man for the job.
However, do not expect that stat to last too long as James Rodriguez picked up the Golden Boot four years ago, as well as clinching the goal of the tournament, and he even scored in every match Colombia played. This scoreline was particularly unexpected in light of the fact that Japan had changed coaches shortly before the tournament, and because no Asian team had ever previously defeated a South American side in 17 World Cup meetings.
Colombia is in now serious danger of failing to advance out of group play with games against Senegal and Poland.
"The players hung tough and battled well and this is the result", said Japan head coach Akira Nishino.
"We had practiced loads of set pieces and that goal was straight off the training ground", said Osako. Still, Colombia must have expected to come away with a win and three points. "We need to be strong, have character and show the power of our team".
The Samurai Blue were in complete control for the next 15 minutes and were almost back in front after Osako got a shot away, which Ospina was equal to on this occasion, as he was when Inui curled one towards the top corner. "This is World Cup, it's a huge stage, and I think we started off very well".
There have been more direct free-kick goals scored in just 15 games at World Cup 2018 (four) than there were in the entire 2014 edition (three), with Colombia's Juan Quintero netting the fourth of this year's tournament. Ospina gets out well to block, but the rebounds falls directly to the feet of Kagawa, who strokes in the opener. only for Sanchez to hurl himself at it and stop with his arm and chest.
In a last throw of the dice, Pekerman introduced James Rodriguez, who did not start due to a calf problem, in the 59th minute but the Golden Boot victor in Brazil was unable to change the course of the match.
Japan brought on Hotaru Yamaguchi for Shibasaki with 10 minutes remaining, replacing Osako with Leicester's Shinji Okazaki.
With the numerical advantage, Japan did create chances to extend their lead but Takashi Inui and Osako both wasted opportunities from good positions.
Pekerman also subbed out experienced midfielder Juan Cuadrado earlier than anticipated in response to Sanchez's red card.
A Sweden supporter holds up a scarf ahead of a World Cup Group F match between Sweden and South Korea on June 18, 2018.
When the game was due to start, Falcao walked across to Japan's side of the field and spoke to referee Damir Skomina in a discussion that lasted beyond the official countdown to kickoff.
When fans let out the customary cheer to mark the beginning of the match, the teams were still standing still.