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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.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

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.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

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.

Colombia thrash poor Poland, set up must-win vs. Senegal

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Colombia thrashed Poland, to the tune of 3-0, in the two sides’ must-win game in Group H play at the 2018 World Cup on Sunday, getting goals from Yerry Mina, Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado to leave their destiny in their own hands ahead of Thursday’s decisive group finale against Senegal.

Poland have been eliminated with one group game still to play.

[ SCENARIOS: Who needs what, to finish where, in final round of group games ]

Colombia could have scored two or three goals in the first half, with Cuadrado and Juan Quintero causing constant problems for the left side of the Polish defense, but the necessary finishing touch was consistently lacking until Mina headed home a James Rodriguez cross in the 40th minute.

Poland offered very little, both before or after Mina’s opener, as Robert Lewandowski was effectively contained with the vast majority of his touches coming 30 yards from goal and further out. After disappointing in their tournament-opening loss to Senegal, manager Adam Nawalka made a handful of changes to his lineup — dropping the likes of Arkadiusz Milik, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Kamil Grosicki — to no avail.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Despite the scoreline remaining 1-0 for the first 25 minutes of the first half, Poland never looked threatening and were put to the sword by Falcao’s first career World Cup goal (missed the 2014 tournament due to a knee injury), courtesy of Quintero’s seeing-eye through ball.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

James played provider five minutes later, when he slotted what might just be the pass of the tournament across the field, across the Polish defense, and found a streaking Cuadrado with acres of space in front of him. From one end of the field to the other, in no time at all.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

When Colombia (3 points) meet Senegal (4 points) on Thursday, they’ll need a win to overtake them for second place, or for Poland (0 points) to beat Japan (4 points), who currently sit top of the group — but that seems highly unlikely at this point.

Germany edges past Saudi Arabia, Poland and Chile draw

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Pre-World Cup international friendlies are coming to a close as teams wrap up their preparation before heading to Russia for the big dance. A number of teams played their final tests before making their way to the host country, and matches on Friday gave us a decent look at where teams are, including a couple of matchups featuring World Cup squads on both sides.

Germany 2-1 Saudi Arabia

Timo Werner scored just eight minutes in as Germany skidded to victory at BayArena in Leverkusen despite the positive showing by World Cup minnows Saudi Arabia. The Germans unlocked the opposition for the opener on a dinked chip over the entire defensive unit by Joshua Kimmich which found Marco Reus on the left-edge of the six-yard box. Reus probably could have scored himself with a well-placed shot, but instead he touched across the face of goal to Werner who poked home from point-blank range off the underside of the bar.

Saudi Arabia had a number of chances in the first half that went begging, and Germany scored a second just before halftime as Omar Othman challenged Thomas Muller for a Werner cross at the doorstep, and it went in off the defender. The underdogs made things interesting late as Saudi Arabia won a penalty with six minutes remaining, and while Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved the spot-kick, the rebound was eventually powered home by Taiseer Al-Jassam.

Poland 2-2 Chile

Robert Lewandowski bagged a goal as Poland drew with Chile in Poznan. The Bayern Munich frontman opened the scoring 30 minutes in as he struck a fine effort from outside the top-left corner of the penalty area. Poland doubled its lead four minutes later as Kamil Grosicki caught the Chilean defensive line way too high, eventually feeding Piotr Zielinski for an easy tap-in on the break.

Chile, however, struck right back with seven minutes to go before halftime via Diego Valdes, and Miiko Albornoz scored the day’s best goal just before the hour mark as he rifled home a long-range missile on the volley.

Switzerland 2-0 Japan

Switzerland scored a goal near the end of each half as they waltzed to a 2-0 victory over Japan in Lugano as they head into the 2018 World Cup on a high. The home side put just two of their 11 total shots on target, but both resulted in goals.

Southampton defender Maya Yoshida conceded a penalty in the 42nd minute after fouling Breel Embolo, and defender Ricardo Rodriguez buried the spot-kick with a confident and powerful strike to open the scoring. Haris Seferovic was the man to finish things off in the 82nd minute, capping a vicious and beautiful counter-attack.

Croatia 2-1 Senegal

Another matchup of two World Cup qualifiers saw Croatia come from a goal down to beat Senegal 2-1 in Osijek. After a scoreless first half that saw the visitors appear to have the advantage, Stade Rennais winger Ismaïla Sarr scored the opener thanks to Wolves midfielder Alfred N'Diaye, who timed Sarr’s run perfectly with a pinpoint long-ball that sailed the entire defense.

Ivan Perisic leveled things back up past the hour mark with a heavily deflected free-kick, and lively halftime substitute Andrej Kramaric grabbed the winner off a broken play with 12 minutes remaining. The Hoffenheim striker hit an ugly, off-balance shot from a tight angle that was blocked easily, but the rebound came right back to him and he struck again, catching Senegal goalkeeper Abdoulaye Diallo off-guard.

Sadio Mane was bright for Senegal, but he clanged a free-kick off the crossbar in the dying minutes of the game, unable to secure an equalizer.

Iran 1-0 Lithuania

Olympiakos striker Karim Ansarifard grabbed the game’s only goal in the 88th minute as Iran heads to the World Cup on a winning note. Ansarifard had a spectacular Greek Super League campaign, scoring 17 goals and grabbing 6 assists in 25 league matches this season.

Hull City relegated from Premier League

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  • Palace, Swans staying up
  • Hull going down
  • Ranocchia’s early error dooms Hull

Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke clinched Premier League safety for Crystal Palace and Swansea City on Sunday, their first half goals enough to send Hull City down in a 4-0 win at Selhurst Park.

Luka Milivojevic converted a late penalty and Patrick Van Aanholt scored on the edge of stoppage time to seal the win.

Hull has 34 points, four behind Swans and seven back of Palace.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Ranocchia’s colossal error made it 1-0 within the first two minutes, his swing and miss at a Michael Dawson back pass allowed Zaha — of all people! — in one-on-one with Eldin Jakupovic. The star keeper didn’t have much of a chance.

The desperation clicked up a notch for Hull, but good chances failed to materialize as the game neared the half-hour mark. Alfred N'Diaye blazed a shot over the bar, but it was mainly Palace’s advantage in class on display.

Jason Puncheon‘s 34th minute corner saw Benteke power past Harry Maguire to head home, and Hull was in a lot of trouble.

Palace should’ve conceded a penalty within minutes of the second goal when Puncheon handled Kamil Grosicki‘s free kick, but Martin Atkinson didn’t see the offense.

The second half was cagey, as Palace set back to hit on the counter. Andros Townsend was particularly effective in his defensive responsibilities.

Palace wrote its safe status in ink when Dawson took down Jeffrey Schlupp and Milivojevic sent Jakupovic the wrong way. Van Aanholt took a pass from James McArthur to make it 4-0 as the match his stoppage time.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Hull City 0-2 Sunderland: Tigers tamed by Black Cats

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  • Jones, Defoe score for Sunderland
  • Silva’s loses home league game for first time since March 2014
  • Sunderland grab first win in 11 games

Already relegated Sunderland won their first game since February 4 as they beat Hull City 2-0 at the KCOM Stadium on Saturday.

Billy Jones and Jermain Defoe scored in the second half as David Moyes‘ side played for pride and delivered with Hull suffering a damaging blow in their bid to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

With the win Sunderland move on to 24 points for the season, while Hull remain just two points above the drop zone with two games remaining.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Sunderland had a great chance to take the lead as Billy Jones’ cross found George Honeyman at the back post but his header went wide.

Hull finally woke up as Sam Clucas forced Jordan Pickford into a fine save down low and moments later Harry Maguire drove forward and whipped a shot just wide of Pickford’s near post.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Sunderland stuck to their task but Hull always looked dangerous with Oumar Niasse‘s overhead kick hitting John O'Shea but calls of handball were waved away.

Abel Hernandez bent an effort just wide of the far post as Hull pressed before the break but O’Shea headed just wide from a corner as Sunderland continued to look dangerous.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Pickford then launched a long ball forward which found Jermain Defore but his low shot was smothered by Eldin Jakupovic and cleared.

Kamil Grosicki then crossed the ball to the back post and Pickford flapped at the cross with Alfred N'Diaye surprised and stabbing the ball wide. Hull then went close again as Hernandez’s shot was blocked by O’Shea brilliantly.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Sunderland stuck with it and could’ve gone ahead as Defoe was free on the edge of the box but blasted over. Soon the Black Cats did go ahead as Honeyman’s corner found Jones who sent a diving header into the net. 1-0 to Sunderland.

Hull wasted another good chance late on as Niasse toe poked wide and then Pickford denied Hernandez with a brilliant stop. Late on Hull threw everything at Sunderland but couldn’t break through and Defoe scored (although he was in an offside position) to make it 2-0, as the Tigers’ survival hopes took a massive blow.