Japan began their Russia 2018 World Cup campaign on a winning note after they defeated 10-man Colombia in the opening Group G match played at the Mordovia Arena in Saransk.
The South Americans were dealt a huge blow as early as the third minute following the dismissal of midfielder Carlos Sanchez who was penalised for denying a goalscoring opportunity in the box.
Borussia Dortmund forward Shinji Kagawa stepped up to score the resulting penalty and give the Asians the lead on 6 minutes amidst Colombian protests in the face of centre referee Damir Skomina.
The South Americans thereafter seized control of the game and they were deservedly rewarded six minutes from halftime when Juan Quintero tricked the Japanese wall to score a low free kick.
Japan were much improved after the break and their dominance finally paid off on 73 minutes after FC Cologne striker Yuya Osako beat Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina with a fine header off a corner kick.
The Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup quarterfinalists thereafter threw everything at the opposition in search of a second equaliser but Japan held on to become the first Asian team to beat any South American nation at the World Cup.
The defeat means Colombia lose to an Asian nation for the first time in the history of the World Cup.
It was sweet revenge for the Japanese who were beaten 4-1 when the two sides met at the same stage during the last edition in Brazil.
Japan move to the summit of Group H as a result of the win, while Colombia now occupy the last spot ahead of the second group match between Senegal and Poland this evening.
The 2002 World Cup hosts will face Senegal in their next game on Friday, while Colombia will do battle with Poland in the quest to get back to reckoning in the group on the same day.
- / 11 hours ago
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