Japan reach last 16 despite loss to Poland

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  • Bednarek scores first international goal
  • Japan advance to last 16 on fair play points
  • First time Japan has reached knockout round since 2010
  • Poland finish 2018 World Cup with one win, two defeats

Japan lost 1-0 to Poland in their Group H finale but the Samurai Blue still advanced to the last 16 virtue of two fewer yellow cards than Senegal.

Seriously. That happened.

Jan Bednarek‘s volley in the second half won the game for Poland who already knew they were eliminated heading into the game.

However, Japan held on to not concede another goal or pick up any more yellow cards to advance to the last 16 for just the third time in their history.

Japan will play either England or Belgium in the last 16.

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A much-changed Japan team did plenty of the pressing early on as Muto’s shot was pushed away by Lukasz Fabianski.

And the Samurai Blue continued to look the most likely to take the lead in a tight, tense first half in Volgograd.

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At the other end Poland came so close to taking the lead as Eiji Kawashima stopped a header from Bartosz Bereszynski brilliantly with goal-line technology showing the ball only went halfway across the line.

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Poland did take the lead in the second half as a free kick to the back post was volleyed home impressively by Southampton’s young center back Bednarek to make it 1-0 and leave Japan on the brink of elimination.

What a way to score your first goal for your country.

Robert Lewandowski came so close to making it 2-0 as Kamil Grosicki‘s cross found him in the box but the Bayern Munich striker put his effort over.

Makino almost put into his own net from Grosicki’s dangerous cross as Japan were holding on for dear life late on as Poland aimed to finish their tournament with a flourish.

The Samurai Blue did just enough to reach last 16.