Colombia 1-2 Japan Six Things: joy for Samurai Blue


Takashi Inui was excellent –

Japan got their first World Cup win in eight years, as Yuya Osako’s second half winner gave them a 2-1 triumph over 10-man Colombia. Here’s six-things from the game.

Colombia’s early set-back

Yuya Osako’s pace caused problems for Davinson Sanchez and Oscar Murillo early on and his run contributed to the fourth-minute penalty. After the nippy striker was denied one-on-one by David Ospina, Carlos Sanchez foolishly handballed Shinji Kagawa’s rebounded effort and was rightly sent off, allowing Kagawa to coolly slot home from the spot.

Defensive Japan

Takashi Inui curled off-target after Kagawa led an excellent transitional move before the quarter-hour mark, but that was Japan’s last attack of the first half. Perhaps because they lacked confidence in Gen Shoji and Maya Yoshida’s ability to win individual physical battles with the impressive Radamel Falcao, they put all their energy into the defensive side of their game. While that approach helped them limit Colombia to an extent, it also made it harder for them to surround Kagawa with forward runners.

Kawashima’s moment to forget

The Metz goalkeeper did well to smother Falcao, after the striker was played in by a delicate through ball from Juan Quintero midway through the first half, but the 39th minute was one to forget. Quintero’s free-kick was placed under the wall with little power and the 35-year-old, trying to use two hands when he should have gone across with one, let the ball spill through his fingers and into the net.

Inui makes his mark

Kawashima’s opposite number, Ospina enjoyed a more positive afternoon, making a fine save from Takashi Inui. The inverted wide man’s slippery runs in from the left channel made him Samurai Blue’s stand-out player; Japan looked so much better when they had the tactical bravery to get him and the intelligent Shinji Kagawa on the ball in the final third.

Joy for Japan

It came as a surprise when Kagawa, growing in influence on the 70-minute mark, was taken off but Keisuke Honda certainly justified Akira Nishino’s substitution. He delivered an excellent in-swinging corner for Osako, who got ahead of Sanchez to nod past the despairing Ospina. Japan managed the game well and therefore held on for their first World Cup victory in eight years and their first against South American opposition: party time in Tokyo.

Challenge for Colombia

Jose Pekerman deserves credit for the job he did four years ago, but his substitutions here were suspect at best. The introduction of a half-fit James Rodriguez did little to help the 10-men’s cause and although Carlos Bacca has a good goalscoring record, he is not the type of striker to scrap for loose balls; therefore Yoshida and Shoji could push high up the pitch. La Tricolor were well-fancied to qualify from their group before the tournament but are now as short as 4/9 not to qualify with this bonus code. Given that Senegal and Poland could provide even tougher opposition, an uphill task awaits.

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