Japan advance on fair play points despite loss to Poland

Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima punches the ball into the path of Senegal forward Sadio Mane

VOLGOGRAD, Russia-Japan advanced into the knockout phase of the World Cup on Thursday despite losing 1-0 to Poland, progressing from Group H thanks to their lower tally of yellow cards than Senegal. "It's the World Cup, and sometimes these things can't be avoided".

Colombia's Yerry Mina came to Nishino's rescue, though, as his goal defeated Senegal and ensured Japan progressed in second place due to its superior disciplinary record.

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. "I'm not too happy about this but ..." And we went through.

"The situation forced me to make this decision".

The game then petered out in the dying minutes in farcical circumstances with both sides, content with the result, idly rolling the ball around amid the fans' boos. Poland, happy to get a victory after two losses, did little to pressure the opposing side.

Japan and Senegal ended up tied for second in points, goal differential, goals for and goals against. They also played to a 2-2 draw on Sunday.

After the fair play rule, there was only one other way a tiebreaker could have been solved, which would have been the drawing of lots by FIFA Organizing Committee.

The last round of Group stage matches will see Japan facing off against a Polish side who are yet to earn a single point in this tournament. Senegal committed 44 fouls.

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The tie was, however, turned on its head in the 59th minute when poor marking from the Japanese gave Bednarek plenty of time and space inside the area, where he meet Rafal Kurzawa's unsafe freekick with a perfectly-cushioned volley into the back of the net. "We're facing Japan, we've got to be ready for it".

The game began at a slow pace.

Intrigued by a commercial promotion for the game that was clearly influenced by "Monday Night Football", the family attends the match. The Belgians made nine changes from their previous match while the English switched eight players.

Poland had an early chance to take the lead in the 32nd minute when Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima stopped a header from Kamil Grosicki. Their best chance came with 32 minutes played, after a bullet header from Grosicky was just scraped out by Kawashima, with the ball just millimetres from crossing the line.

Japan excluded some of its most creative players, including midfielder Takashi Inui and Makoto Hasebe, from the starting line-up but coach Akira Nishino put that down to fatigue rather than any attempt to play for a draw. Yep, Senegal have been eliminated because they picked up more yellow cards that the Japanese.

Adnan Januzaj curled in the victor six minutes after the restart, saving Belgium from finishing second behind England on fair play points. But if you change the players and the system, you are taking a risk. "It worked against us".

Japan, therefore, reached the round of 16 along with Colombia, with England or Belgium lying in wait.

Poland coach Adam Nawalka said his team proved they were not quitters by winning their first game at a World Cup since they beat Costa Rica in Germany in 2006.

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