Japan secured passage out of Group H to the knockout stage even though they lost 1-0 to already eliminated Poland. Both teams were criticised for their performance at the end of the game. The teams seemed content to have Japan pass the ball between them for the last 10 minutes of the match.
Questionable tactics see Japan qualify from Group H
Japan went through as the second placed team in the group after a much changed team lost to already eliminated Poland. The match started rather evenly, with not too much to separate the two teams. Poland had a few good chances and finally recorded a first half shot on target in this tournament. Neither team looked to have a huge advantage and the teams went in level at the break. Japan knew that only a point would have seen them through to the next round of the competition.
Poland came out for the second half still looking for their first win in this competition. That moment finally arrived after Rafał Kurzawa was brought down by a Japan player outside the box. Kurzawa took the subsequent free kick. Southampton defender Jan Bednarek got on the end of it and gave Poland their second goal of the tournament. This was also Poland’s second goal from a set piece at this tournament as both goals have come from free kicks.
The end of this game has created several headlines after the match descended to walking pace in the final 10 minutes. Japan knew that if the result in the other match in the group stayed as it was, Japan would be going through in second place in Group H. In the final 10 minutes, the ball rarely left Japan’s half as they were content to pass it between themselves without attempting to play forward. Japan went through as the second team in Group H after the fair play tiebreaker saw them through as they had picked up less yellow cards than Senegal.
Man of the Match
Poland did not give a good account of themselves at this tournament but one positive will be the performance of Rafał Kurzawa. Kurzawa looked to create many chances in the final third and gave Poland a good sense in attack. His free kick was weighted perfectly which allowed Jan Bednarek to get on the end of it. This gave Poland their only win of the tournament.