Colombia and Japan are through to the knockout stages of the World Cup after a dramatic round of final games in Group H.
Yerry Mina’s header gave Colombia a narrow victory over Senegal, while Japan lost to Poland, but went through courtesy of receiving less yellow cards than Senegal.
For much of the afternoon Senegal were coasting, however Mina’s goal in the 75th minute changed the complexion of the group completely and means there are no African sides in the final 16 of the tournament.
It was a tense end to an intriguing group. A late Senegal equaliser would have sent Japan out, whilst the Japanese knew that a second Poland goal or two yellow cards could cost them their place in Russia.
Whilst Senegal had chances, Poland appeared to settle for a 1-0 win, knowing what a second might do to their opponents’ chances. Japan’s players were not about to put in any aggressive tackles either.
It means that whoever finishes top of Group G out of England and Belgium will face Japan, whilst the runners-up will play the dangerous Colombia.
Senegal knew they only needed a point to go through whilst Colombia went into the game aware that they must win, or they’d have to rely on other results. But it was the Senegalease who took the game to Colombia and looked the most likely to break the deadlock.
VAR was involved in a fairly dull first-half, as replays proved that Davinson Sanchez timed his tackle on Sadio Mane perfectly, despite the referee originally pointing to the spot.
The South American’s main opportunities came from set-pieces and James Rodriguez limping off after 30 minutes was symbolic of their first-half display. The 2014 Golden Boot winner had barely touched the ball and Colombia were flat for such a big game.
Source: Matt Storey