Japan pip Senegal to sneak into World Cup last 16 on fair play record

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Japan coach Akira Nishino defended his negative tactics as his side qualified for the last 16 of the World Cup on their superior fair play record on Thursday, despite being defeated 1-0 by Poland.

On a hot afternoon that witnessed quite a lot twists, Japan somehow managed to secure a place in the knockout stages of the tournament where they will meet Belgium, thanks to Colombia defender Yerry Mina‘s goal in Samara and because they received two yellow cards fewer than Senegal.

Nishino’s instructions for his team were to take the 1-0 defeat and hang in there, once news of Mina’s 74th-minute goal for Colombia came through.

Nishino was happy to see his team over the line, and praised his players for listening to his negative orders.

“The players listened to me and were loyal and determined to keep the status quo,” Nishino said.

“It was just the situation that forced me to make the risky call and we decided not to go on the offence and rely on the other match.

senegal

“I’m not too happy about this but the World Cup is such that these things happen and we went through so it was perhaps the right decision.”

Japan have reached the knockout stage for the third time in their history but when Jan Bednarek scored in the 59th minute, his first international goal for the Polish, the scoreline between Colombia and Senegal was at 0-0, meaning Nishino’s team, also the last one left representing Asia, were heading home.

But Mina’s goal thickened the plot. Suddenly Colombia would top Group H and Japan were ahead of Senegal despite the same points, goal difference and goals scored – because of Senegal’s poorer fair play record in the tournament.

Nishino revealed that he brought on midfielder Makoto Hasebe for striker Yoshinori Muto in the 82nd minute in order to give negative orders to his teammates – to stop trying to score and get forward and not to commit any fouls.

“I did tell Hasebe to tell the team to stay put (at 1-0), not to concede any yellow cards and go to a defensive 4-1-4-1,” Nishino said.

Most popular

England toil as brilliant Adnan Januzaj strike earns Belgium 1-0 win and top spot in World Cup Group G

Simon Peach 29/06/2018
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Gary Cahill takes a tumble against Belgium

Adnan Januzaj’s stunning goal secured a much-changed Belgium side a 1-0 win over England‘s second string on Thursday evening and meant Gareth Southgate‘s men will face Colombia in the last 16 of the World Cup.

What looked like being one of the ties of the group stage instead became a rather strange encounter given the talk about the most favourable knockout route, including suggestions that finishing runners-up may be preferable.

Southgate dismissed that before seeing his team suffer their first defeat in a year, with Januzaj’s superb effort six minutes into the second half securing a narrow victory which earned Belgium top spot in Group G and a last-16 tie against Japan.

The Three Lions will be hoping to win their first knockout match since 2006 in Moscow next Tuesday, when widespread changes are again on the cards after their squad players struggled against Roberto Martinez’s reserves.

Belgium made nine changes and England eight for the pool decider in Kaliningrad, where the teams were booed off after a tepid first half in which Gary Cahill and Trent Alexander-Arnold both cleared off the line.

Southgate’s men would have progressed as group winners through fair play had the scores remained level, but former Manchester United man Januzaj’s moment of magic turned the game in Belgium’s favour.

Marcus Rashford missed England's best chance.

Marcus Rashford missed England’s best chance.

Marcus Rashford and substitute Danny Welbeck went closest to an equaliser on a night when Belgium’s second ever win in this fixture left England plotting their route to Moscow.

If England are to overcome Colombia next week, they will need to play far better than they did at the compact Kaliningrad Stadium.

In truth, neither side impressed once an open start tapered off.

Jamie Vardy saw an early driven cross unconvincingly stopped by Thibaut Courtois, before Jordan Pickford denied Youri Tielemans from distance.

It was a Hollywood save but at least it was a stop, whereas minutes later Cahill had to come to the Everton goalkeeper’s rescue to clear off the line after Michy Batshuayi’s attempt somehow squirmed through.

Cahill and Vardy headed wide for England as the tempo slowed, with Alexander-Arnold, making his second England appearance, hacking clear after Marouane Fellaini got a shot away that looked bound for the bottom corner.

There was not much else to talk about in a meek half that saw Belgium race ahead in the ill-discipline stakes, with Tielemans and Leander Dendoncker booked for fouls on Danny Rose.

And while Alexander-Arnold went close with a cross-shot and Ruben Loftus-Cheek headed wide, the locals had become restless.

Having whistled prolonged spells of purposeless Belgian possession, it was little surprise to hear the half-time whistle greeted by boos.

John Stones, pictured with a bandaged calf, was replaced by Harry Maguire for the second period, which was six minutes old when the neutrals finally had something to shout about.

Many English fans will not have seen Januzaj since slipping out of the Premier League as a Sunderland player, but he showed a flash of the outstanding skill that had once excited Manchester United supporters following superb quick feet with a fine finish that outfoxed Rose.

It saw Belgium take control of a match that England struggled to come back into.

Questions over Vardy and Rashford’s chemistry grew as they toiled, only once truly connecting well as the Leicester striker put the United forward through.

Courtois’ slight touch helped take Rashford’s shot wide and substitute Welbeck, the last outfield player to represent England at this World Cup, was denied by a Fellaini block.

That was the last real England threat as Belgium ended the night on top.

Late change Dries Mertens’ first-time strike forced a great save from Pickford and Fellaini smashed into the side-netting in stoppage time.

Most popular

Related Tags

Marcus Rashford fails to make his mark as Manchester United man is off target in England's defeat to Belgium

Matt Jones 29/06/2018
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

England missed the chance to top their World Cup group as an Adnan Januzaj stunner stole the show in Belgium’s 1-0 win.

It was something of a dead rubber as both teams had qualified, with 17 changes among the 22 starting players, but there was the prestige of coming top, as well as avoiding Colombia in the last 16.

Here, we analyse the performance of England striker Marcus Rashford, who endured a frustrating night in Kaliningrad.

STATISTICS

Goals – 0

Assists – 0

Shots – 4

Shots on target – 1

Touches – 51

Passes – 33

Key passes – 0

Dribbles – 4

Dispossessed – 2

30-SECOND REPORT

Harry Kane has taken this World Cup by storm and was given a rest in order to replenish his energy levels. Step forward then Marcus Rashford, who has perhaps been unlucky to find himself starting both of England’s openers on the bench.

He got his start here and although he was bright and alert, never giving the Belgian defence a moment to rest, his performance was punctuated by a series of squandered chances.

GOT RIGHT

Movement – He was always on the move and when balls were sprayed behind the Belgium back line, Rashford was on them in a flash. Whether played over the top for him to chase or played directly into his feet for him to bamboozle the Belgian defence, he was always an option.

Confidence – Even after his miss he didn’t hide away, pulling out to the right flank and still going in search of the ball. He lined up a free-kick later on and rocketed it just over Thibaut Courtois’ goal.

GOT WRONG

Grasping his chance – If you would have been told a player with a Manchester United connection was going to be the match-winner in this game, Adnan Januzaj wouldn’t have been too far up the list. Rashford would have been at the top, but he was taught a lesson in how to finish by United alumni Januzaj with a stunning strike. When presented with his own opportunity – and a far easier one at that – he was thwarted by Courtois, when he shouldn’t have been given the keeper a chance.

VERDICT

This was a chance for several fringe players to push for a starting berth in the round of 16, and among the players at the top of that list is Rashford, who has shown he belongs in an England jersey in his formative appearances. He already has 20 caps aged 20, but only three goals.

Kane’s place is undoubtedly safe in the starting XI and Rashford may well have been pushed down the pecking order in terms of first to be called upon substitutes.

RATING: 5/10

All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com

Most popular