Japan loses to Poland but moves on to knockout round

Poland striker Robert Lewandowski has endured a disappointing tournament

Poland striker Robert Lewandowski has endured a disappointing tournament

Japan's World Cup team has been branded a "disgrace" over the manner in which they qualified for the knockout stages of the tournament in Russian Federation.

When Jan Bednarek scored his first global goal in the 60th minute for already eliminated Poland, the score between Colombia and Senegal stood at 0-0, meaning Japan were going out.

The second half then gave way to high drama, as Poland's Rafal Kurzawa floated a free kick to the far post and an unmarked Bednarek volleyed home 30 minutes from time, putting Japan out as things stood.

Remarkably, Japan then made a decision to play out the remainder of the contest by stroking the ball around inside their own half despite trailing on the scoreboard, although it was ultimately enough as they were given a helping hand by the Colombians.

Senegal, who lost 1-0 to Colombia, ended up level on points, goal difference and goals scored with Japan so the teams were separated by the tie-break rule introduced at this World Cup for the first time.

Japan and Senegal were tied on all tiebreakers except "fair play points", based on yellow and red cards.

"My players were very loyal in listening to me and following my decision".

Goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima keeps his place despite a howler for Senegal's first goal in the 2-2 draw and will captain the side.

Ryu Kuroda, a 30-year-old from Tokyo who was also in the Russian city, said he understood it as a tactic but that he "wanted to see Japan score". The Belgians made nine changes from their previous match while the English switched eight players.

Then, with nine minutes remaining, Tomoaki Makino - in an attempt to intercept another unsafe cross by Grosicki - could only send the ball towards his own goal but Kawashima reacted well to make the save.

Their main man, striker Robert Lewandowski, powered in 16 goals during the qualifiers - but failed to score in Russian Federation, ending his miserable tournament with another spurned chance against Japan.

However, it's Akira Nishino's side who will play the winners of England's group in Rostov-on-Don on July 2 due to their superior fair play record. Senegal became the first team ever eliminated by a new tiebreaker - number of yellow cards.

Poland, for the third straight World Cup that it has competed in, lost its first two group matches and then won its third.

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