SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) started off the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia with a victory. On Tuesday 19 June, Japan won against Colombia 2-1 in their Group H opener held at Mordovia Arena in Saransk. It was Japan’s first victory in the World Cup since the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Japan grabbed the lead early in the first half with a penalty kick converted by KAGAWA Shinji (Borussia Dortmund). Despite allowing Colombia to level the match by halftime, OSAKO Yuya (Werder Bremen) scored the decider in the 73rd minute off a corner kick.
For Japan, World Cup Russia opened with a match against Colombia, who they suffered a 1-4 loss in their final group stage match in the previous World Cup in Brazil. Five players who experienced the loss, goalkeeper KAWASHIMA Eiji (Football Club de Metz), NAGATOMO Yuto (Galatasaray S.K.), YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC), HASEBE Makoto (Eintracht Frankfurt), and Kagawa were named in the starting line-up. While SAKAI Hiroki (Olympique de Marseille) and SHOJI Gen (Kashima Antlers) joined the defensive line, Coach NISHINO Akira’s intention to “take the initiative in the midfield” was present as SHIBASAKI Gaku (Getafe C.F.), HARAGUCHI Genki (Fortuna Dusseldorf), and INUI Takashi (Real Betis) were named in the midfield along with Osako as the lone striker......
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