Saransk (Russia): Japan's national soccer team on Tuesday beat Colombia, who fielded a 10-man squad for almost the entire game, in a 1-2 victory that doused the South American country's expectations for the inaugural match of Group H in the ongoing 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
A goal by Yuya Osako in the second half sealed the deal for the Nipponese, who put up a solid performance aided and abetted by the fact that Carlos Sánchez the Colombian defensive midfielder who plays for La Liga's Espanyol was sent off in the 5th minute after a clear handball led to a penalty kick that Japan did not squander.
Shinji Kagawa slammed the ball into the center of the net from the 11-meter mark and fooled Colombian goalie David Ospina, who had lurched toward the goalpost to his right.
After Japan's early advantage, Colombia managed to equalize with a free kick executed by Juan Quintero, who gently knocked the ball slightly past the goal line when Eli Kawashima failed to block it on time,
making the referee's wristwatch equipped with goal-line technology immediately buzz.
The one-all draw spilled over to the second half until Osako's header following a corner kick in the 73rd minute gave the Asian squad an edge that few had predicted before the match, as Colombia had been generally considered the favorite.
The Latin American team's biggest star, Bayern Munich winger James Rodríguez, started the game on the bench ostensibly due to a slight calf injury, with head coach José Pekerman only opting to call him up half an hour before the final whistle, though to little avail when it came to an end result that saw Japan snagging the crucial three points.