The 2018 FIFA World Cup has already thrown up a number of surprises, and Maya Yoshida’s Japan continued that trend on Tuesday afternoon.
Yoshida, who played the full 90 minutes, helped Japan to a hard-fought 2-1 victory over a talented Colombia side in their opening match at the World Cup.
Things got off to a great start for Samurai Blue, as former Aston Villa man Carlos Sanchez was sent off for a deliberate handball within three minutes, while Borussia Dortmund’s Shinji Kagawa duly converted the resulting penalty to give Japan a valuable early lead.
Japan defended resolutely, with Yoshida leading from the back, but Colombia drew level shortly before half time through a clever Juan Quintero free-kick.
However, with less than 20 minutes remaining, Yuya Osaka headed home the winner to give Japan three massive points to help them attempt progressing from one of the tightest-looking groups at the early stages of the World Cup.
The win ends Japan’s winless run against South American opposition at the World Cup.
Next up for Japan is a Senegal side which boasts former Southampton man Sadio Mane. They play on Sunday in a crunch clash - and I think we all know who Southampton fans will be rooting for.
Senegal defeated Poland in another surprising result, leaving Group H wide open.