Moscow: Contrary to expectations, 61st ranked Japan edged past 16th ranked Colombia 2-1, courtesy Yuya Osako’s second-half header, in their opening match of Group H at the ongoing 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup here at the Mordovia Arena in Saransk.
Japan headed into the clash as clear underdogs, having clinched just one win in their previous six matches across all competitions.
Though Colombia too qualified for their straight second World Cup berth despite going win-less in their final four qualifying matches, they had a good record over Japan going into the opener.
In the previous three meetings between the two sides, Japan has failed to defeat Colombia as the former lost twice while they settled with draws in the remaining game.
However, Japan eventually managed to take revenge against Colombia and erase the bad memories of the 2014 edition in Brazil by clinching a triumph in the ongoing World Cup.
Just four minutes into the game, Colombia were reduced to 10 men as midfielder Carlos Sanchez was handed a red card -the first of the ongoing World Cup-for handling the ball inside the box.
Two minutes later, Japan got a dream start as Borussia Dortmund midfielder Shinji Kagawa easily netted a goal to give his side a 1-0 lead over Colombia.
While Colombia started counter attacking after reducing to 10 men, Kagawa missed a golden opportunity to double Japan’s lead in the 15th minute of the match.
In the 34th minute, Colombia got a great chance to equalize the score when skipper Radamel Falcao managed to bring the ball close to the goal post, only to see Japan defending it comfortably.
Just five minutes later, Colombia finally managed to level the score via Juan Fernando Quintero’s brilliant free kick.
The two sides went into half-time 1-1.
Much of the second-half was a one-way traffic, with Japan making all the noise while Colombia were yet to come up with a real attacking move.
And Japan’s effort did end in result as they managed to double their score in the 73rd minute when midfielder Keisuke Honda delivered a sumptuous cross from the corner and Yuyu Osako put the header inside the goalpost to make it 2-1 agaisnt Colombia.
The last few minutes saw Colombia struggling to make something out, while Japan making sure to not allow any loopholes.
In the five minutes of additional time, Colombia tried hard to score the equalizer, but Japan kept pushing hard and managed to hold on to their lead.
With the win, Japan have become the first Asian team to beat South American opposition at the World Cup.
Colombia will next lock horns with eight-placed Poland, Japan will square off with 27th placed Senegal in their second match of the ongoing football showpiece event. (ANI)