Japan 0-1 Poland: 5 things we learned

Japan progressed into the last 16, where they will play Belgium, despite losing to Poland.

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Reuters/SERGIO PEREZ

Japan are through but they did it in the most unconvincing, unimpressive circumstances. Poland, who were playing simply to avoid ending with zero points, scored through Jan Bednarek just before the hour and from there the game died as a contest.

Japan were content to keep the score at 1-0, with Senegal losing by the same scoreline to Colombia. It was a risky tactic: had Senegal equalised in the other game Japan would have been eliminated.

Neutrals were not impressed by Japan’s reluctance to attack, or Poland’s acceptance of it. But it worked. Cynical though it was, Japan are now into the knockout stages at the expense of Senegal.

It was made more controversial by the way in which second place was decided: Japan and Senegal were matched on goal difference and goals scored, so fair play was used to determine which team would progress. Japan had two fewer yellow cards.

It was a game made memorable for what did not happen, rather than what did, but here are five things we learned from Japan’s defeat to Poland. 

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