Japan milk 'fair play' system in wretched World Cup defeat to Poland

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"However, it was a very tough and risky situation".

"It was an ultimate decision for me to make".

As the game continued, it barely got above walking pace, prompting many inside the Volgograd Arena to show their displeasure by whistling and booing. The manager changed six players from the team that started both previous games against Colombia and Senegal - including all front four attackers - and the decision nearly backfired spectacularly. Over two defeats, Poland have only scored a single goal.

After much speculation over previous days about his place in the team, Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima proved his worth in spectacular fashion with about 15 minutes left in the first half, just keeping out a free header from Kamil Grosicki.

With two fewer yellow cards, Japan's tally of minus-four points was two better than Senegal, who may feel aggrieved at being sent home for a reason other than the quality of their football.

Both Japan and Senegal finished the group phase with four points, had the same goal difference and the same amount of goals scored.

'This will not sweeten our losses or the results of those two matches, but we have to say we have accumulated a lot of experience at this World Cup and we have plans and ambitions and I think we will go forward'.

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Bednarek beat his marker at the far post in the 59th minute to volley in a swirling 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.

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

Despite Japan losing 1-0 to Poland on Thursday, Senegal was eliminated.

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.

Inui picked up a yellow card in Japan's last match against Senegal. "It worked against us".

Poland have been one of the biggest disappointments of this World Cup, two years after reaching the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 where they went out on penalties to eventual champions Portugal and after finishing top of their qualifying group for the World Cup in Russian Federation.