Japan make last 16 on disciplinary rule despite Poland loss


Japan has a tough final group-stage game against Poland, which despite being 0-2-0 through two games still is a quality opponent with a world-class striker in Robert Lewandowski.

Japan's Gotoku Sakai in action with Poland's Artur Jedrzejczyk and Jan Bednarek.

Senegal and Japan both finished on four points having been handed their first defeats of the tournament Thursday, and with the same goal difference and number of goals scored. "I'm happy we are going to the next round". The message I sent out to the pitch was to stay put and the players listened to me'.

'This will not sweeten our losses or the results of those two matches, but we have to say we have accumulated a lot of experience at this World Cup and we have plans and ambitions and I think we will go forward'.

Poland shook up the lethargic game - played in 36 degree Celsius (96.8 Fahrenheit) heat - in the 59th minute when Poland's Rafal Kurzawa floated a free kick to the far post and an unmarked Jan Bednarek scored from close range.

"The manner in which the team qualified was not the initial goal", said Nishino.

'I suppose it was a little bit regrettable but this is the World Cup and sometimes this happens, ' added Nishino.

Future starts now for Germany after shock first-round exit in Russian Federation
He added, however, that the World Cup does produce moments that go down in football folklore - often from unlikely sources. Most of the big boys are still standing, but Germany's group-stage exit proved anything can happen in Russian Federation .

Sure to have won no fans after this latest display, starting the tournament in a positive light, Japan will now enter the last-16 short of friends.

If Japan earns at least the point it needs against Poland, it will only be the second time that Japan has gone through the group stage undefeated, the other being when co-hosting in 2002 with South Korea.

The fans at the Volgograd Arena showed their displeasure by booing and whistling loudly over the final minutes.

Poland responded by creating their only significant chance of the first half with Kamil Grosicki seeing an excellent header clawed away from the bottom corner by Eiji Kawashima.

With 20 minutes to play, Poland launched a quick counter attack and Robert Lewandowski was handed a chance to kill the game off, but blasted his shot over the bar. Yep, Senegal have been eliminated because they picked up more yellow cards that the Japanese.

Poland coach Adam Nawalka said his team proved they were not quitters by winning their first game at a World Cup since they beat Costa Rica in Germany in 2006.