Japan survive despite loss to Poland

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

Japan and Senegal were tied on all tiebreakers except "fair play points", based on yellow and red cards.

Senegal's six yellow cards to Japan's four ultimately cost the African side, which exits Russian Federation in disappointing circumstances.

Overall, Japan committed only 28 fouls in three group matches, among the fewest in the tournament.

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.

Mina's strike for Colombia on 74 minutes in the other match sent the group decider to fair play, with both final games ending 1-0.

When Bednarek scored, Japan was facing elimination.

As the game continued, it barely got above walking pace. The Belgians made nine changes from their previous match while the English switched eight players.

Poland responded by creating their only significant chance of the first half with Kamil Grosicki seeing an excellent header clawed away from the bottom corner by Eiji Kawashima.

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Then, with nine minutes remaining, Tomoaki Makino - in an attempt to intercept another risky cross by Grosicki - could only send the ball towards his own goal but Kawashima reacted well to make the save.

News of Colombia's goal saw Japan coach Akira Nishino make an odd tactical call as his side sat on their one-goal deficit, despite the risk of Senegal scoring decisively in Samara.

"There is no doubt that our next opponents are going to be stronger than us, " Japan defender Yuto Nagatomo said before the foe was known. Yep, Senegal have been eliminated because they picked up more yellow cards that the Japanese.

Smith defended the rule as preferable to drawing lots to determine who qualifies, although "the preference is that slots and teams advancing is on the basis of goals and results and there's clear winners. the fair play criteria is an additional criteria and it's very clear".

"Four points from two games is a decent result, but we haven't achieved anything yet", said captain Makoto Hasebe. "It worked against us".

Nishino can at least take heart from the fact that his key players will go into the last-16 game in Rostov-on-Don fresh and rested, even if the Belgians can say the same after making nine changes for their win over England.

Poland, for the third straight World Cup that it has competed in, lost its first two group matches and then won its third.

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