Japan progress despite defeat

  • Though beaten by Poland, Japan still qualify for the knockout phase

  • Poles claim their first win of the tournament

  • RELIVE: As it happened, stats, more | Post-match press conferences

Japan knew that a draw against Poland would guarantee their spot in the knockout phase at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, but events in Group H transpired in such a way that the Samurai Blue progressed on the back of a defeat. It is the third time the East Asians have made it past the group stage at a World Cup finals, having achieved the feat in back in 2002 and 2010.

Akira Nishino made six changes to the line-up that started against Colombia and Senegal, and it would be fair to say the large-scale rotation did his team no favours. The Japanese lacked a cutting edge in attack, and it was Poland who created the two best chances of the game. Shortly before the interval, Eiji Kawashina was forced into a spectacular diving save to claw Kamil Grosicki’s header off the goalline, but the goalkeeper could do nothing about Jan Bednarek’s short-range volleyed finish in the second half.

For the Poles, who even before the start of today’s match knew they were on their way home, it was their first win in the competition.

Team Reporter Analysis Hidetoshi Suzuki with Japan [Follow: Twitter] A draw was enough for Japan to qualify for the Russia 2018 knockout phase, but the changes to the starting XI and the new tactical approach did not help the team. The Japanese only advance to the Round of 16, thanks to Colombia’s win over Senegal and having picked up fewer yellow cards than the Africans. A win, a draw and a loss ultimately turned out to be sufficient for the Samurai Blue.

Piotr Kozminski with Poland [Follow: Twitter] Poland already had zero chances of making it to the knockout rounds, but victory in their last match of the group stage does redeem the national team somewhat in the eyes of their fans. The Poles risked suffering their worst World Cup in history, so Jan Bednarek’s goal has saved them this fate. Nevertheless, the performance of Adam Nawalka’s side at this World Cup was highly disappointing.

Budweiser Man of the Match Jan Bednarek scored the winning goal for Poland in their last match at the 2018 World Cup.

The stat 6 - Poland have won their final fixture in the group stage in six of their last seven appearances at the World Cup. The only exception in that run was a 3-0 defeat against England in Monterrey during Mexico 1986.

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