Japan slip through on fairplay rule, Latest Football News

Poland striker Robert Lewandowski has endured a disappointing tournament

Japan were holding on for the point they needed to secure progression for the World Cup knockout stages after a forgettable first half against Poland in Volgograd.

With Japan and Senegal having drawn 2-2, the sides were split in a World Cup first by FIFA's new tie-breaking "fair play" regulation, which compared the sides' disciplinary records across their three group matches.

Following the loss, thanks to Jan Bednarek's 59th-minute strike, Japan have four points - the same as third-placed Senegal but the Asian powerhouse are ranked second in the group on the basis of fair play (number of yellow and red cards collected).

Japan, of course, will be toasting the system, and they were more than happy to exploit it on field after learning of Yerry Mina's second-half victor for Colombia in the Senegal match, which set up the "fair play" tiebreaker. Since Senegal had accumulated more yellow cards, they missed out as Japan went through as the first team to qualify for the knockout rounds in such a manner. Finally, Bednarek broke the deadlock in the 59th minute of the game when he fired the ball into the nets following a free kick from Kurzawa.

His cleverly directed header looked destined for the bottom corner until Kawashima made up huge amounts of ground to claw it to safety with a big right hand at full stretch.

With the goal meaning that Japan would be heading out of the competition as it stood, the game burst back into life after a drab opening 15 minutes of the second half, as Akira Nishino's side were forced to chase an equaliser.

Kawashima's place had been under threat following his howler for Senegal's first goal in the 2-2 draw and he repaid Nishino's faith with a wondrous stop.

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Jan Bednarek's fine volley was enough for them to triumph, but this result does not alter the fact that the Poles should have done better at this World Cup.

"They are both world-class teams", he said.

A total of 32 national football teams entered the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which is held in 11 cities across Russian Federation between June 14 and July 15, and only 16 of them proceeded to the knockout stage.

- Japan have failed to score in five of their last six World Cup games against European opponents (W1 D2 L3), with their only goals coming in a 3-1 victory over Denmark in 2010.

Over the course of the three group matches, each team won once and lost once, and they tied each other.

In the end, Japan's time wasting paid off as managed to safely hold onto the ball and not concede any fouls or goals. "It was everything we don't want to see in the World Cup".

Russian Federation is holding its first time ever edition of the FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show at the Luzhniki Stadium on the night of June 14.

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