The ninth penalty of the World Cup and the first red card saw Japan take the lead as early as the sixth minute; but 10-man Colombia fought back bravely to take a share of the points due to a clever free kick by Juan Quintero.
Ultimately it was to be Japan’s day as Osako won the game with a towering header in the second half. Japan became the first Asian country to get a victory over a South American team at a FIFA World Cup.
The second quickest red card in World Cup history was shown to Carlos Sanchez, three minutes and 15 seconds into the game and Colombia had handed the initiative to the Japanese, who scored the ensuing penalty through Shinji Kagawa.
The Colombians were already without James Rodriguez, who was nursing a shin injury; but they started with Radamel Falcao after the Monaco striker missed the 2014 World Cup with an injury.
Falcao sprung the offside trap but his shot was directed straight at Eiji Kawashima in the 12th minute as the South Americans upped the tempo, pushing the 11 men of Japan into defensive mode.
Despite their 10 men, Colombia still had more of the possession and threatened the Japanese rearguard on more occasions than the Japanese did theirs. Jose Pekerman made a tactical substitution in the 30th minute – as Juan Cuadrado was hauled off and Walter Barrios sent on.
Falcao had another chance in the 34th minute but his lunging effort was straight at Kawashima. The Colombians were back on level terms in the 39th minute after a controversial free kick was awarded to the Colombians, as what seemed a foul by Falcao was adjudged a Japanese foul.
Juan Quintero skilfully played the ball under the Japanese wall and it evaded Kawashima’s grasp. There was the need for Goal Line Technology [GLT] to award the goal even though it was so far beyond the goal line, it was undebatable. Quintero’s goal was the fourth direct free kick to be scored in Russia, after 15 matches, eclipsing the three that were scored in 64 matches in Brazil in 2014.
The Colombians were deserving of their luck because they were the better of the two sides despite playing a majority of the first half with 10 men.
The Japanese started the second half more offensively and started exploiting their one-man advantage even though the pace was a little frenetic in the sweltering heat.
Osako almost presented a scoring opportunity to Kagawa. Osako turned Davidson Sanchez in the 53rd minute but David Ospina saved to spare his defender’s blushes. Takashi Inui forced another save from Ospina on 57 minutes as they had more of the ball possession.
Quintero left the pitch to applause as Rodriguez jogged on in the 58th minute. Yoshida headed a free kick powerfully at goal but it flashed wide. Sakai fired across the goal post in the 61st but he could have looked up and picked out a teammate.
Barrios was shown a yellow card in the 64th minute for a rough foul on Kagawa. There was a Colombian block on another Inui shot and they won a corner. There was a scramble in the Colombian box as Japan piled more pressure. Keisuke Honda replaced Kagawa with 20 minutes left on the clock while Carlos Bacca came on for Jose Izquierdo.
Honda tested Ospina from distance but it was a comfortable catch for the Arsenal reserve goalkeeper. Sakai’s shot was deflected for a corner after Osako had brilliantly held off Sanchez to create the scoring chance. But the second goal duly arrived as Honda delivered unto Osako’s head and he directed his effort past Ospina to take a deserved lead.
Japan to that point had 70 per cent of ball possession in the second half. Falcao, who had been marooned upfront won Colombia’s first corner kick. Rodriguez then had a shot in the box blocked for another corner. Colombia were now positively offensive.
Otaro Yamaguchi came on for the injured Gabu Shibasaki in the 79th minute as Kira Nishino tried to add some steel to his midfield. Osako came second in a race on 82 minutes and stayed on the pitch for some seconds with cramp. Osako went off in the 84th minute as Shinji Okazaki came on to add his experience. Rodriguez was rightly yellow carded for a foul on Yamaguchi.
An offside call gave some respite to Japan as Colombia threw everything forward. Five minutes were added but good game management saw the Japanese become the first Asian country to score two goals against a South American team.
The Match in Pictures
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