Poland claim their first World Cup victory after Jan Bednarek gave Poland all three points, beating Japan 1-0. Akira Nishino made an unexpected six changes to his side leaving key players like Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda on the bench which proved to be a huge risk after a nervy second half.
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Uninspiring First Half
Many would have expected Poland to play a free-flowing attacking game with the pressure of qualification removed, however, the first half offered very little entertainment from both sides.
Meanwhile, Poland’s lack of creativity has been an unwanted theme throughout their campaign and this again proved to be a real problem. To Japan’s credit, every time Poland looked to attack they were quickly closed down resulting in long balls over the top which were easily dealt with by the Japan defence.
Both sides showed no real sense of urgency with the first real chance for Japan coming in the 12th minute. Yuto Nagatomo’s cross was met by Shinji Okazaki who’s header from close range was blocked.
Poland finally threatened Eiji Kawashima on the 31st minute after Kamil Grosicki’s header was denied by a superb diving save from the Japanese goalkeeper. Robert Lewandoski again cut a frustrated figure due to the lack of service he was receiving.
Jan Bednarek Gives Poland Some National Pride
The second half began with Shinji Okazaki being subbed off one minute into the second half due to an injury. Yuya Osako was his replacement. Japan continued to work hard without the ball with a fast pressing style of play. However, Poland were again struggling to create any clear-cut chances.
Finally, Poland broke the deadlock on the 59th minute. A freekick was delivered into the box by Rafal Kurzawa which was met by Jan Bednarek. The defender’s close-range effort was fired into the bottom right corner giving him his first ever international goal – putting Japan’s qualification ambitions in doubt.
Meanwhile, Poland had a major opportunity to double their lead on the 73rd minute. Kamil Grosicki played a lovely, well-timed pass into Lewandoski who sliced it over the bar. It was the strikers first real chance of the game to grab his first World Cup goal.
Both teams seemed content with the scoreline in the closing stages. The match went to walking pace with both teams having no interest in attacking.
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