Colombia's James Rodriguez will not play vs. Japan after calf injury

Arnold Nichols
June 19, 2018

Shinji Kagawa scored from the resulting penalty to give Japan the lead in the Group H match.

Pekerman went to his bench once again to bring on star midfielder James Rodriguez, who has been hampered by a muscular injury, for goalscorer Quintero while Honda replaced Kagawa.

It was the second-fastest red card in World Cup finals history, after Uruguay's Sergio Batista was sent off inside the first minute in 1986.

Social media, of course, had its say.

The South Americans were considered favourites to top Group H in a pool that also features Poland and Senegal, who kick off at 4pm.

Colombia paid the price for Japan's dominance in the 73rd minute when Osako rose highest in the area to head home a Honda corner and put his side back into the lead.

A cool-headed Shinji Kagawa opened the scoring for The Blue Samurai by effortlessly converting the penalty. Japanese striker Osako after beating the Colombian backline, launched a shot straight into David Ospina, who could only manage to send it back to Kagawa who struck on the rebound which was blocked by Sanchez with his hand.

Kagawa's penalty kick after just six minutes became Japan's quickest ever goal at a World Cup.

Nonetheless, from the resultant corner, Japan finally found the breakthrough as Honda's risky delivery found Osako, who showed the greatest hunger in a sea of opposition defenders to send a deft header past Ospina and win it for his team.

"Right now our pain is precisely because after that huge effort after scoring that goal. we lost because we were worn down, we were exhausted and even if I tried subbing on a couple of fresh players it was very hard for us to recover possession and Japan had its opportunities", Pekerman said.

It is also the first time Colombia would lose to an Asian side at the World Cup.

Colombia dropped deeper and deeper, and Japan slowly started to generate a steady stream of chances. With Colombia down to 10 men, Juan Fernando Quintero then eased tensions by equalising with a cheeky goal as he shot an under-the-wall free-kick.

A Sweden supporter holds up a scarf ahead of a World Cup Group F match between Sweden and South Korea on June 18, 2018.

It is the sixth time Colombia have reached the World Cup having recorded their best finish in 2014 when they reached the quarter-finals.

"If we had actually won the World Cup, we would have had a parade on the main street of Saransk", Japan coach Akira Nishino said.

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