Colombia's Carlos Sanchez sent off in defeat to Japan
Colombia 1 - 2 Japan

Colombia's Carlos Sanchez sent off in defeat to Japan

19/06/2018

Japan got their World Cup campaign off to the perfect start with a 2-1 win over Colombia, who suffered the tournament's first red card after only three minutes.

Carlos Sanchez was dismissed for handball as Japan won the penalty from which Shinji Kagawa gave them the lead and, although Juan Quintero levelled, Yuya Osako headed the winner after the break.

Osako created the game's first moment of danger, getting away down the right to provide an early cross that was claimed by goalkeeper David Ospina.

But the game exploded into life after three minutes when the same player got clear down the middle and, when Ospina saved his strike, Kagawa's follow-up was blocked by the arm of Sanchez.

Sanchez became the first player to be sent off at the 2018 World Cup and, after a lengthy delay, Kagawa stayed calm to give Japan the lead from the spot.

As the 10 men tried to hit back, Santiago Arias got down the right but failed to find Radamel Falcao with his cross, and with 12 minutes gone Falcao came close but his touch to a Quintero free kick was straight at keeper Eiji Kawashima.

Within moments of that chance Japan could have added a second, Kagawa finding Takashi Inui in space on the left of the box only for his effort to flash beyond both Ospina and the far post.

Gaku Shibasaki made a superb challenge as Juan Cuadrado prepared to unleash a strike and, as the half-hour approached, the same player had an effort blocked after picking up the pieces from a corner.

Two minutes later, Cuadrado was the player chosen to make way as Colombia made a tactical change, Wilmar Barrios coming on to add more midfield presence.

Falcao conjured another shot from a dropping ball only to see Kawashima save -- but the keeper was beaten moments later as depleted Colombia found a 38th-minute equaliser.

The goal came when, after they had won a free kick on the edge of the box, Quintero waited for the wall to jump and sent a low strike towards the bottom corner which Kawashima was unable to reach until just after it had crossed the line.

Japan stepped up the pace at the start of the second half and, with five minutes gone, Yoshida controlled a low ball in the area but was unable to get a shot away before Ospina made a superb save when Inui curled a low strike towards the corner.

As the hour approached, Colombia brought on James Rodriguez, who had been left on the bench because of calf problem, taking off Quintero.

But it made little difference to the direction of the second half, Japan fashioning -- and failing to profit from -- another promising moment when Hiroki Sakai got into the area only to produce neither a cross nor a shot.

Barrios was booked for a foul on Kagawa, and then Inui threatened again before his shot, after cutting inside, was blocked by a defender.

With 20 minutes to go, Japan took off Kagawa and brought on Keisuke Honda, with Bacca coming on for Colombia in place of Jose Izquierdo.

After 73 minutes, Japan were within a whisker of restoring their lead when Saki's fierce strike was deflected wide -- but they broke through from the resulting corner as Osako headed home off the inside of the post.

The goal was thoroughly deserved for their second-half dominance, but they were nearly pegged back within moments as James found space in the area but saw his shot deflected over.

Japan brought on Hotaru Yamaguchi for Shibasaki with 10 minutes remaining, replacing Osako with Leicester's Shinji Okazaki.

James, who had been unable to make any impact, went into the book for a lunge on Haraguchi as Colombia ended the afternoon frustrated.

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