World Cup 2018: 3 things that went right for Japan against Colombia
Japan stunned Colombia in the opening game of Group G at the Mordovia Arena in the FIFA World Cup this evening. The Blue Samurais were handed a huge favour as early as in the 3rd minute when Carlos Sanchez was given the marching orders for handling the ball inside the penalty area. This was the second fastest sending off in the history of the tournament and Shinji Kagawa made no mistake from 12 yards out.
Despite the early advantage, Japan allowed Colombia to settle down and the numerical indifference was almost not at all evident as the South Americans clawed their way back into the game. Juan Quintero hit a low free-kick under the wall to beat Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima to bring the teams back on level terms in the 35th minute.
However, Yuya Osako's winner in the 73rd minute ensured that Japan avenged the horrors of their meeting with Colombia (a 4-1 loss) in Brazil four years ago and became the first ever team from Asia to beat a South American outfit in the World Cup. Without further delay, let's take a closer look at a few factors that probably helped Japan outshine Colombia:
#1 Colombia's hapless start
The game got off to a flying and controversial start when Carlos Sanchez handled the ball in an attempt to block a shot on goal from Japan and referee Damir Skomina did not hesitate to pull out the red card from his pocket in the 3rd minute. Japan made full use of the golden opportunity and it was on a plate for Shinji Kagawa to slot the ball past a helpless David Ospina in the opposition's goal.
Jose Pekerman was forced to make a tactical tweak after his side were reduced to 10 men and the resulting roll of the dice meant that Colombia's brightest hope until that point, Juan Cuadrado, had to replaced by the more defensive minded Wilmar Barrios to help ease the pressure on Juan Quintero.
Colombia eventually clawed their way back into the game but it only showed how destructive they could have been without the numerical disadvantage.