World Cup: Colombia 1 Japan 2 - 5 things you need to know

Radamel Falcao (centre) of Colombia in action during their Fifa World Cup 2018 group H preliminary round soccer match against Japan in Saransk, Russia, on June 19, 2018.
Radamel Falcao (centre) of Colombia in action during their Fifa World Cup 2018 group H preliminary round soccer match against Japan in Saransk, Russia, on June 19, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Japan became the first Asian team to beat a South American side in the World Cup Finals as they beat Colombia 2-1 in a highly entertaining affair.

The Blue Samurai are now in pole position in a Group H lacking any top-tier nations.

Here's the lowdown on the game:

1. THE GOALS

Colombia 1 (Juan Quintero 39th) Japan 2 (Kagawa 6th, Osako 73rd)

2. THE WOW MOMENT

This World Cup has seen its fair share of tepid snoozefests (Sweden-South Korea anyone?) but Carlos Sanchez's moment of madness less than three minutes in swiftly ensured that this game would be anything but. End-to-end action followed for the rest of the first half, and while the second half failed to match the first for drama there was still a satisfying goal for the fans and pundits, who have much to chew on with Japan's victory.

3. THE TALKING POINT


There was contention over the referee's award of a free kick which led to Colombia's equaliser. PHOTO: REUTERS

 

Had Japan not found the winning goal, the contentious decision that led to Colombia's equaliser would have come under more scrutiny. It was a 50-50 challenge and there was a case that the free kick should have been awarded to Japan. Instead, it was Juan Quintero who stepped up to the plate, unleashing a real corker of a low shot that Japanese custodian Eiji Kawashima could not keep out.

4. THE STAR


Yuya Osako headed home the winning goal in the 73rd minute. PHOTO: AFP

Yuya Osako. Preferred up front to veteran Keisuke Honda and hobbled Shinji Okazaki, the Werder Bremen striker was at the centre of all the match's key moments. It was his shot that Sanchez blatantly stuck out a hand for and the 28-year-old validated manager Akira Nishino's faith in him as he soared to head home the winning goal in the 73rd minute. He also played a role in defence a few minutes later with a vital block on James Rodriguez's point blank shot.

5. WHAT THE RESULT MEANS


With the vital win, Japan are in a great position to progress to the knockout stages but must keep their foot on the pedal against Senegal in their next game. PHOTO: REUTERS

Group H always looked the most wide open group on paper before the tournament began, lacking any of the top-tier European or South American teams. With the vital win, Japan are in a great position to progress to the knockout stages but must keep their foot on the pedal against Senegal in their next game. Colombia's Sanchez, on the other hand, will be hoping his silly error has not already ruined his country's World Cup after such a stirring campaign in Brazil four years ago.