Published: Tue, June 19, 2018
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FIFA 2018: Japan stuns 10-man Colombia in Group H encounter

FIFA 2018: Japan stuns 10-man Colombia in Group H encounter

Colombia began the game without Rodriguez, a Bayern Munich midfielder who was the leading scorer at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Juan Quintero's clever low free kick in the 39th minute brought Colombia's equaliser but Yuya Osako leapt above his marker to head a corner into the net for the 73rd-minute victor.

Colombia will clash with Japan today in the opening Group H fixture at the Mordovia Arena, Saransk.

Colombia's Carlos Sanchez was red carded after two minutes and 56 seconds - the second fastest shown in World Cup history, after Jose Alberto Batista for Uruguay vs Scotland in 1986 (54 seconds). Instead, Japan eked out a 2-1 victory over Colombia, which played with 10 men after a Carlos Sanchez handball in the box in the third minute. Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima reacted late and by the time he got his hands to the ball, it had crossed the line.

Ospina was forced into a pair of saves after the restart, first going down to smother Osako's shot and then diving out fully to palm away an effort from Inui.

The pressure told in the 73rd minute, as Osako headed in Keisuke Honda's corner. He almost single-handedly guided Colombia into the championship by scoring six goals in only five games.

So Sanchez's right arm movement sent Japan to the spot. Kagawa slots it away!

Colombia's 2018 World Cup got off to just about the worst possible start on Tuesday against Japan. Also no James Rodrigez for the South American side.

Akira Nishino sent his side out for the second half with a clear message - get at the opposition and make the one-man advantage count.

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Japan were unhappy with the referee's decision to award the free kick, though, as they felt Falcao went to ground far too easily once barged into by Makoto Hasebe. Providing they can make a strong start, Colombia can realistically target another quarter-final, thanks in part to their kind draw.

Rodriguez won the Golden Boot in the last World Cup after scoring six goals for Colombia in Brazil. For the majority of the side, this could be their final World Cup appearance and will be looking to go out on a high.

He came on to join captain Radamel Falcao in the 59th minute, but his best chances were thwarted by Japan's desperate defending near the goal. The Monaco striker missed out on the 2014 competition with a knee injury and will be relishing the opportunity to represent Colombia on the world stage.

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