Colombia: Ospina, Arias, Davinson Sanchez, Murillo, Mojica, Cuadrado, Carlos Sanchez, Lerma, Izquierdo, Quintero, Falcao.
Subs: Vargas, Cuadrado, Zapata, Barrios, Bacca, Aguilar, Rodriguez, Mina, Muriel, Uribe, Diaz, Borja.
Japan: Kawashima, Hiroki Sakai, Yoshida, Shoji, Nagatomo, Haraguchi, Hasebe, Shibasaki, Inui, Kagawa, Osako.
Subs: Higashiguchi, Nakamura, Ueda, Honda, Endo, Okazaki, Usami, Muto, Yamaguchi, Oshima, Makino, Gotoku Sakai.
Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia).
The teams are out! Colombia are in their bright yellow, Japan sport their samurai blue. We’ll be off in a minute! “The Samurai Blue strikes me as a pretty artificial and unconvincing nickname,” opines Charles Antaki. “Does a Japan fan ever say: ‘Are you going down to see the Samurai Blue play tonight?’, let alone make a tune out of it. Whereas Los Cafeteros makes perfect sense for Colombia, and they have a catchy song in the cumbia style.”
Pre-match playtime. It’s the pub argument we’re all having: who would you select in your all-time Japan team? Our snazzy tool can help you decide, once and for all! I’m afraid there isn’t a similar gizmo for Colombia, but I don’t make the rules, and in any case we all dream of a team of 11 René Higuitas, so we’d be wasting our time anyway.
And we’re off! Japan get the party started on a sunny day in Saransk. But only after a false start, because the referee didn’t realise Falcao, having won the toss, wanted the teams to switch ends. The switcheroo is made, and it’s all happening!
2 min: Colombia hog the ball in the early exchanges. Japan are doing quite a lot of the gegenpressing. But suddenly there’s a little space for Osako down the right. He reaches the byline and whips into the centre. Ospina – who made a few mistakes during qualifying – gets an early touch and handles confidently.
Penalty for Japan … and red card for Colombia!
3 min: Osako wriggles free of Davinson Sanchez. He’s clear down the middle! Ospina smothers his shot, but the ball rebounds to Kagawa, who smacks the ball goalwards. Carlos Sanchez sticks an arm out to save. It’s a penalty, and he’s off!
5 min: It takes quite a while to shift Sanchez from the pitch. That’s about one fifth of a Rattin. But eventually he takes his leave. Kagawa prepares to take the penalty kick.
GOAL! Colombia 0-1 Japan (Kagawa 6 pen)
Kagawa waits for Ospina to dive to his right. Then he strokes his penalty down the middle. Cool and calm amid the mayhem. But what a start this is!
8 min: What a start to Colombia’s World Cup campaign! The entire move was the fault of Davinson Sanchez, who didn’t deal with a simple bouncing ball and let Osako burst clear. He’ll have a little apologising to do to his namesake Carlos, who was nevertheless correctly given his marching orders for deliberately sticking out an arm to stop Kagawa’s shot.
10 min: A slightly stunned atmosphere in the Mordovia Arena, as everyone processes that early drama. The match hasn’t really got much shape as a result. Colombia are trying to get things going, though, Arias zipping down the right. But his cross is nowhere near Falcao.
12 min: Hasebe bundles Cuadrado to the floor. Colombia want a yellow card issued; they’ll be hoping to level up the teams if at all possible. The resulting free kick, just in front of the centre circle, nearly leads to a goal: Quintero lifts the ball forward for Falcao, who sticks out a leg and tries to guide the ball into the bottom right. It would have been a picture-book goal – not totally dissimilar to Djibril Cisse’s strike in the 2006 FA Cup final – but it’s straight at Kawashima.
15 min: Japan nearly take a two-goal lead. Kagawa jumps on some slack Colombian play in the midfield, and powers towards the box. He’s got Inui free, in acres, coming in from the left. Inui opens his body and tries to steer a low shot across a static Ospina and into the bottom right. But the ball bobbles wide of the post.
18 min: Colombia seem less panicked than they were in the immediate aftermath of the penalty and sending off. They’re giving as good as they’re getting right now. Cuadrado skedaddles down the right and very nearly gets past Nagatomo, but the Japanese left-back holds firm and eventually the ball’s run out of play for a goal kick.
20 min: Izquierdo battles well in the midfield and sets Cuadrado off towards goal. He’s just about to pull the trigger on the edge of the box, when Shibasaki tracks back to make a stunning saving tackle. This is a really nice open game. Colombia have clearly decided to just go for it.
Japan decide to take the sting out of the game, passing it slowly and calmly around the midfield, utilising their extra man. “It’s funny because the thumbnail for your Colombian national anthem YouTube video displays the line ‘el brazo que combate’, which means ‘the arm that fights’,” writes Nelson Calvinho. “Then Sanchez goes out after using his arm to fight the ball.”
Haraguchi wins a corner for Japan out on the right. It’s worked back to Inui, who hooks the ball into the mixer. Yoshida, who has come up looking to cause bother, is penalised for shoving.
Now Colombia win a corner on the left. The ball eventually finds its way to Cuadrado on the right. He’s got time and space to shoot, yet allows himself to be closed down. His effort is blocked by the heel of Osako on the edge of the area.