Japan picked up all three points from their Group A match tonight, but may rue conceding a stoppage time goal that may have major ramifications come the final round of group matches next Tuesday. They’ll certainly regret the loss of their captain, CSKA midfielder Keisuke Honda, who was stretchered off in the final five minutes with an ankle injury and will miss the rest of the tournament.
On to the positive then, and Shinji Okazaki lashed Japan in front after eight minutes when he picked up the ball 30 yards out, burst into the box and smashed it past M’Bolhi. He was only denied a second when his header from a Kiyotake corner hit the inside of the post before being cleared.
Hiroshi Kiyotake provided the assist for the second, ten minutes after half-time, when he curled a free-kick towards the far post from wide on the right that Hiroshi Ibusuki beat the ‘keeper to in the six-yard box for two-nil.
With time running out and Japan happily running down the clock with ten men after Honda’s injury, they conceded a needless throw on their left hand side, level with the penalty area. Algeria took it quickly and Foued Kadir whipped a cross into the six-yard box.
Hiroki Sakai clearly tripped Algerian striker Rafik Djebbour in the box, but the referee delayed his whistle brilliantly for Djamel Abdoun to stoop and nod the loose ball past Kawashima for his first international goal.
Japan play Spain on Tuesday, with eliminated Algeria taking on Colombia. An unlikely point for Japan will see them safely through to the last sixteen, but defeat means that a comfortable Colombian victory would see them leapfrogged.
FIFA WORLD CUP BRAZIL 2014 MATCH 20: GROUP A ALGERIA 1-2 JAPAN Abdoun 90 Okazaki 9 Ibusuki 56 Fortaleza
GROUP A P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Spain 2 2 0 0 6 1 +5 6 Q 2. Japan 2 1 1 0 3 2 +1 4 3. Colombia 2 0 1 1 2 3 -1 1 4. Algeria 2 0 0 2 1 6 -5 0 x