WHAT A THRILLING WIN FOR JAPAN!!
Everyone counted against Japan winning their World Cup opener against Columbia. Well, they were wrong. The Samurai Blue led a superb upset.
Japan started off with a bang as Yuya Osako (FW) pressured the Columbian backline and created a breakaway. Kagawa’s (MF) following shot led to a penalty kick and a red card for Carlos Sanchez (DF). I have already seen people saying that Sanchez’s hand ball was accidental and wasn’t deserving of a red card. This claim is ridiculous. To say that Sanchez’s hand naturally floated mid-air for that long until the ball hit it, is just absolutely insane. He definitely intended to pull a Suarez. Anyways, the Japanese shooter calmly put away the PK, and I hoped the rest of the game would go Japan’s way.
However, I saw a sloppy 30 minutes from both sides afterwards, as passes seemed to go wide. Japan is not used to having the upper-hand because people count us out. Their playing reflected this reality.
A dive from Falcao and a terrible referee decision led to a sneaky freekick goal by Quintero (MF) as he rolled the ball under Japan’s wall. Honestly, the ref’s decision to reward Falcao’s blatant dive was much worse than his decision to send off Sanchez. Watch the highlights, and you’ll notice that Falcao was LITERALLY the one who tried to lay the body on Hasebe (MF), but the Columbian dove. WHY? HOW DOES THAT WORK?
The second half was all Japan. Japan created chance after chance, but the Blue boys failed to concede. But in the 73rd minute, Osako scored a beautiful header. Ospina (GK) was caught off the goal-line as he fails to decide between punching the ball and keeping his ground. Columbia never seemed to find their attacking rhythm. Despite James Rodriguez’s entering the match in the second half, chances were minimal for the Columbian side. The long 5-minute stoppage time felt like an hour, but Japan came out with three points.
My man of the match was easily Osako (FW), and he rightfully won the award. Throughout the match, he made beautiful runs that exposed the Columbian backline. The opening goal was a result of Osako’s breakaway even though his initial shot was blocked. Furthermore, in the 78th minute, he barely blocked a close-range shot from James Rodriguez. Most importantly, he scored the decisive goal.
Other great performances came from Nagatomo (DF) and Gen Shoji (DF). Nagatomo showed outstanding ability to keep up with Cuadrado, and he made quick runs and had a few crosses. Shoji displayed his defensive coolness by outplaying Falcao in many situations.
The Columbian side didn’t display their South American flair in their first match, but I hope to see some exciting soccer from players like Cuadrado (MF) and James Rodriguez in the upcoming Group H matches.
Conclusively, Japan’s victory was a historical one as it was the Samurai Blue’s first time winning a World Cup matchup against a South American team. The game was yet another upset. I’m super hyped that Japan finally got their revenge against Columbia, following their 1-4 defeat four years ago. Never count us out!
“Colombia vs Japan June 19, 2018 – 2018 FIFA World Cup Commentary.” FOX Sports. Accessed June 19, 2018. https://www.foxsports.com/soccer/fifa-world-cup/colombia-japan-june-19-2018-match-commentary-108590
FIFA.com. “2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – Matches – Colombia – Japan.” FIFA.com. Accessed June 19, 2018. https://www.fifa.com/worldcup/matches/match/300331550/#motm