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James Rodriguez makes belated start for Colombia

20 June 2018

Yuya Osako had a surprise in store for those who thought Shinji Okazaki's lack of fitness left Japan little hope of competing with Colombia at the World Cup.

Colombia's national soccer team on Tuesday fell to a 2-1 defeat against Japan in its first group stage game of the World Cup in Russian Federation after being reduced to 10-men within three minutes.

After Slovenian referee Damir Skomina had sent Carlos Sanchez packing, amid intense Colombian protests, Kagawa stepped to the spot and calmly slotted the ball down the center as Ospina anticipated to his right.

With Colombia down to 10 men, Juan Fernando Quintero then eased tensions by equalising with a cheeky goal as he shot an under-the-wall free-kick. The goal became the second-fastest to be scored in this edition of the World Cup so far after Cristiano Ronaldo's fourth-minute penalty against Spain in Match 4 of the tournament earlier this season.

The South Americans were considered favourites to top Group H in a pool that also features Poland and Senegal, who kick off at 4pm.

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Colombia started the Group H fixture without the 2014 World Cup Golden Boot victor Rodriguez due to muscle fatigue, while Japan were without Leicester City striker Okazaki due to a calf problem.

It took 18 attempts, but finally an Asian team have triumphed over the perennial World Cup achievers of South America, with the former continent suffering 14 defeats during that time.

Yuya Osako celebrates scoring Japan's second goal with coach Akira Nishino and teammates.

They could still go through in a very evenly-matched group, but it's already hard to see them replicating their feel-good run in Brazil four years ago.

In the early minutes of the game, there was controversial drama as Carlos Sanchez was handed the first red card of the tournament for stopping a goal-bound shot of Shinji Kagawa with a raised arm in the box.

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But it was apparent within minutes, when Sanchez got the red card, that the rematch would not go so smoothly for the Colombians.

Ten-man Colombia and Japan were level at 1-1 at halftime in their World Cup Group H match on Tuesday.

Colombia continued to trouble Brazil with quick attacking movements but as the minutes passed they lost stamina and playing 90 minutes with a man down proved too big a mountain to climb.

"Los Cafeteros" responded again and James had a golden opportunity in the 77th minute after he was put through by Lerma but the Bayern Munich star was denied by a last ditch block as the ball blazed over the crossbar.

Take a look through the gallery above to see the best pictures as Carlos Sanchez is sent off for a deliberate handball in Colombia's World Cup clash with Japan.

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James Rodriguez makes belated start for Colombia