Jittery Japan reach Round of 16 despite Poland defeat

1:22                                            Get the latest news from day 14 of the World Cup in Russia including an update on the health of Diego Maradona

1:22 Get the latest news from day 14 of the World Cup in Russia including an update on the health of Diego Maradona

But Nishino's squad, which was the lowest-ranked and considered the longest shot to advance from the group, was emboldened by its opening 2-1 win over Colombia and now is aiming to advance with a bigger win over winless Poland, who are already out of contention. I forced my players to do what I said.

They are joined in the last 16 by Japan, who go through despite losing 1-0 to rock-bottom Poland in Volgograd.

The outcome saves Japan manager Akira Nishino from at least some questions about his risky decision to start the game with a team showing six changes to the one that performed well in a gutsy 2-2 draw with Senegal in Ekaterinburg, and all four of his Russian Federation 2018 goalscorers on the bench.

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.

"I decided that I was going to rely on the other match's result", he told reporters.

"The idea was to use players who were fresh and try to get a 0-0 draw".

Japan and Senegal share the group lead with four points and the same number of goals scored and conceded.

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Oliseh added, "I will love to see Belgium play Nigeria in the knockout stages of the World Cup". Musa spent the 2016/17 season at Leicester City where he scored four goals in 32 games.

With two fewer yellow cards, Japan's tally was better than Senegal, and though Nishino acknowledged his regrets in his postmatch news conference about the manner of Japan's progression, he did not apologise for the game's lifeless conclusion. He beat his marker at the far post and volleyed in a swerving free kick from Rafal Kurzawa.

"We are where we are and we know that we have failed the Polish football fans and ourselves", coach Adam Nawalka said.

Japan lacked their usual fluency and Eiji Kawashami's superb sprawling save from Kamil Grosicki was the highlight of a dour first half, with goalline technology confirming the header did not cross the line.

The match, the final game in the Group Stage for each team, will be simulcast in Spanish from Telemundo, the exclusive Spanish-language home of 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

On Saturday, Lukaku recorded a pair of goals for the second consecutive game - both Belgium victories - to become the first player to score multiple goals in consecutive World Cup matches since Argentina's Diego Maradona in 1986.

VOLGOGRAD-Japan is expected to stick with goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima when it faces Poland and top striker Robert Lewandowski in a World Cup group match finale.