Defeated Japan squeezes into World Cup last 16 thanks to fair play

28 June, 2018, 22:42 | Author: Isabel Grant

"It was an ultimate decision for me to make".

While the fair play tiebreaker is far from flawless, it's likely better than what would have been the case had Senegal and Japan also been tied on yellow cards - the final remaining tiebreaker that Federation Internationale de Football Association has, in that case, is the drawing of lots.

Coming into this afternoon's games sitting atop Group H, anything other than a defeat to Poland would have guaranteed Japan their place in the next round.

Since the two teams also played to a draw against each other, the deciding factor that sent Japan through and Senegal home was the number of yellow cards each team had based on the "fair play" tiebreaker.

When Bednarek scored, Japan was facing elimination.

However, inseparable on points, goal difference and goals scored, Japan's grasp on second-place in Group H came down to a marginally better disciplinary record than Senegal.

It was a risky strategy - a second goal for Poland or a Senegal equaliser would have eliminated them - but it ultimately paid off. But the Japanese still had more of the chances in the first half.

More news: Yerry Mina Goal Sends Colombia Past Senegal, into World Cup Knockout Stage

Japan will play the winners of Group G - either England or Belgium, who were to play later Thursday - in the next round.

"There is no doubt that our next opponents are going to be stronger than us", Japan defender Yuto Nagatomo said.

Senegal, however, has become the first victim of the new tiebreaker.

'We have to end this with flying colours and we'll do our utmost to get to the round of 16.

Knowing that they were poised to progress, Japan, seemingly having secured some kind of agreement with the Polish team, spent the final minutes of the game passing amongst themselves under absolutely no pressure at all from their opponents.

As a result, no African team advanced from the first round of the World Cup for the first time since 1982. "Football is a contact game". "It worked against us".

It's the first time since 1982 that no African team has made it through to the knockout stage. When the two teams met in their group clash, the match ended 2-2.


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