Yuya Osako and his teammates celebrate Japan’s stunning win. (Filippo Monteforte / AFP / Getty Images)

Japan 2, Colombia 1

Group H, Mordovia Arena, Saransk

Take that, Olivia.

Scoring multiple goals for only the fourth time in 18 World Cup matches, Japan stunned Colombia, one of the darlings from the 2014 World Cup, with a 2-1 victory in their Group H match Tuesday in Saransk. The win was the first for an Asian team against a South American team in 18 World Cup meetings.

Yuya Osako’s goal in the 73rd minute was the winner as Japan defied the prediction by Olivia, a psychic parrot who had picked Colombia after a solid run of picks in the women’s World Cup and Rio Olympics. Japan prevailed over a Colombia team that played 87 minutes down a man.

Play had barely begun when Colombia was slapped with a red card that led to a 1-0 lead for the Japanese on a penalty kick by Shinji Kagawa. Three minutes in, Carlos Sanchez was called for a deliberate handball on what the referee determined was a shot that would have gone into the net. The red card — the first of this World Cup — means that Sanchez must sit out Colombia’s upcoming meeting with Poland. His departure also left Los Cafeteros shorthanded for the vast majority of Tuesday’s opener.


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Colombia evened the match on a free-kick goal by Juan Quintero in the 38th minute. That came after Makoto Hasebe and Radamal Falcao tangled in a collision that seemed inadvertent to many observers. Nevertheless, Quintero got the chance and equalized the score. Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima protested that the ball had not crossed the goal line, but human eyes as well as the VAR (video assistant referee) said otherwise.

Japan had been disappointing of late, with a performance that led to the firing in March of Coach Vahid Halilhodzic, but that’s all but forgotten now. And Los Cafeteros now desperately need a result against Poland.

What’s next 

Colombia: vs. Poland in Kazan, June 24, 2 p.m.

Japan: vs. Senegal in Ekaterinburg, June 24, 11 a.m.

Poland and Senegal meet in Group H’s other matchup

Complete schedule, standings and results

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In-game updates

Goal!

Japan stunned Colombia, taking a 2-1 lead on a goal by Yuya Osako in the 73rd minute, shortly after Keisuke Honda entered the game, replacing Shinji Kagawa.

The goal came after Japan dominated the first 15 minutes of the second half, controlling the ball 73.8 percent of the time.

James Rodriguez enters the game

In the 58th minute, James Rodriguez, the 2014 Golden Boot winner and the Colombian hero from that World Cup, enters the match. His sore calf be damned, he’s in the game with Colombia down a man after Carlos Sanchez’s red card.

Rodriguez has shown signs of the calf strain since February, when he missed three weeks with pain in the calf. He missed three weeks in January 2017 with a similar injury. Rodriguez replaced Juan Quintero, who scored for Colombia.

Goal!

Colombia evened the match on a free kick by Juan Quintero in the 38th minute.

The Cafeteros got the opportunity for the kick after Makoto Hasebe and Radamal Falcao tangled in a collision that seemed inadvertent to many observers. Nevertheless, Quintero got the chance and equalized the score. Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima protested that the ball had not crossed the goal line, but eyes as well as the VAR (video assistant referee) said otherwise.

Goal!

Early in the match, Colombia was down one goal and one player.

Play had barely begun when Colombia was slapped with a red card that led to Japan taking a 1-0 lead on a penalty kick by Shinji Kagawa.

Three minutes in, Carlos Sanchez was called for a deliberate handball on what the referee determined was a shot that would have gone into the net.

The red card — the first of this World Cup — means that Sanchez must sit out the next match, after playing all of about three minutes in this game. His departure means Los Cafeteros are shorthanded for the rest of the match.

The red card, ESPN reports, is the second-earliest in World Cup history.

In the 30th minute, Coach Jose Pekerman made a surprise move, pulling Juan Cuadrado (apparently to his surprise) in favor of Wilmar Barrios.

Team profiles

Colombia 

  • Last showing in the World Cup: Quarterfinals, 2014.
  • Best finish: Quarterfinals in 2014 in Brazil.
  • Notable: This is Colombia’s sixth World Cup appearance; it failed to qualify in three straight cycles before 2014.
  • FIFA world ranking: 16. ELO world ranking: 9.

Japan 

  • Last showing in the World Cup: Group stage, 2014.
  • Best finish: Round of 16, 2002 and 2010.
  • Notable: Japan has been a World Cup fixture since 1998, alternating between elimination in the group stage and the round of 16.
  • FIFA world ranking: 61. ELO world ranking: 44.

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