Japan took on Poland at the Volgograd Arena in their last game of the Group stages of the FIFA World Cup 2018.
The Blue Samurais were looking for a win in order to stay top of the table in Group H.
A loss would have possibly seen Senegal or Colombia go above and Japan eliminated.
Poland on the other hand were bottom of the table despite of their firepower in Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski.
Japan had the edge since the beginning of the tournament with super sub Keisuke Honda making an impact on the pitch whenever the team needed it.
The home side were playing more defensively than they did in previous fixtures as Poland were making the run ins with the likes of Grosicki.
However, Japan skipper Eiji Kawashima stood tall in goal saving inbound shots from getting into his net.
In the first half, it seemed like both teams were looking for a draw as not much action was happening on both sides of the pitch.
A stalemate would have seen the Japanese remain in qualification.
For the remainder of the game, it seemed like that’s what Japan were going for.
However, just before the hour-mark, Southampton’s Jan Bednarek poked the ball into the back of the net from Kurzawa’s pass.
Despite the goal, Poland were already destined for elimination, but Japan didn’t want this to happen to them.
As the latter stages of the game went by, the Samurais got tighter and tighter in defence with Maya Yoshida controlling the back line.
Lewandowski had the perfect chance to further the visitor’s lead in the 74th minute.
After receiving a great ball from Grosicki, the Poland captain simply couldn’t handle the defensive pressure by Yoshida, blasting the ball over the net.
In stoppage time, Japan surprised many by playing possession as they kept back passing in their own half.
Tactically their manager told them to do so as Senegal were losing to Colombia in Samara.
If they kept the scoreline 1-0, Japan could still qualify on goal difference.
For the last three minutes of the game, they did exactly that and the whistle blew them into the last 16.
Source of Image: @FIFAWorldCup (Twitter)