Japan loses to Poland but moves on to knockout round

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The Japanese knew that with Senegal losing by the same margin to Colombia they would go through to the round of 16 ahead of the Africans.

Poland are out of the tournament after two defeats, and they will have nothing more to play for other than pride.

Despite Poland appearing lethargic in the opening frame, Nishino's decision came very close to backfiring when Southampton defender Jan Bednarek converted a Kurzawa free-kick with a deft touch of his left foot.

Japan's Gotoku Sakai in action with Poland's Artur Jedrzejczyk and Jan Bednarek.

It is they that will kick on to the knockout stages of the World Cup, despite finishing their group with an identical points and goals tally to Senegal, who'll be on a plane home in the next 48 hours. I forced my players to do what I said.

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'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'.

"Of course, we would prefer to be eliminated another way".

"The manner in which the team qualified was not the initial goal", said Nishino.

The jeers that rained down on Japan during their 1-0 defeat by Poland in Volgograd may suggest otherwise, but the Samurai Blue's unedifying decision to wind down the clock and forgo the push for an equaliser had "fair play" at its heart.

Japan's time-wasting tactics at the World Cup have been widely condemned.

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"I would like to play both of them because they will pose a fantastic challenge for us".

The fans at the Volgograd Arena showed their displeasure by booing and whistling loudly over the final minutes.

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

Their main man, striker Robert Lewandowski, powered in 16 goals during the qualifiers - but failed to score in Russian Federation, ending his miserable tournament with another spurned chance against Japan.

Cisse said it was "sad" and a "shame" for Senegal to go out in such a way, and conceded that maybe his players had been too committed in their tackling.

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