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19 Jun 2018

Colombia 1-2 Japan: 5 things we learned as Osako provides a shock

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Japan have completed one of the upsets of the tournament so far after beating 10-man Colombia at the Mordovia Arena. Akira Nishino's side went into their opening fixture believing they'd be up against it, facing a Colombian side that had claimed all nine points in the 2014 Group Stages. 

An early red card shown to Colombia's Carlos Sanchez for a deliberate handball set the tone, though the Japanese failed to make their early advantage count despite Shinji Kagawa rolling in the ensuing spot-kick. 

A cleverly executed free-kick from Juan Quintero - who was deputising for a James Rodriguez facing minor fitness issues - brought the Colombians level shortly before the break. 

Japan began the second period inspired and rejuvenated with Nishino's words ringing in their ears, and made their numerical advantage count, moving the ball around nicely and forcing their opponents to do more of the running.

The added pressure finally told 20 minutes from time when Yuya Osako rose highest to nod home from a Keisuke Honda corner. The Japanese held on to record the first win for any Asian side over South American opposition at a World Cup.