Michael O'Neill: I hope Japan are beaten in last-16 after awful tactics
Japan 0 Poland 1
Japan were beaten 1-0 by Poland but progress to the knockout stages of the World Cup thanks to Colombia's 1-0 win over Senegal.
The Japanese were the superior side up until the hour mark, at which point Jan Bednarek's composed volley swung momentum in Poland's favour. Japan looked destined to be knocked out of the competition but, thanks to Yerry Mina's 74th-minute goal against Senegal, Akira Nishino's men were spared an early exit.
Japan reached the last 16 by having a better disciplinary record than Senegal.
Nishino's side - who will now face Belgium - finished with the same number of points, goals scored and goals conceded as Senegal, but were shown only four yellow cards during the group stage to the African side's six.
"We did not go for victory but we just relied on the other match," said Nishino. "That was slightly regrettable but I suppose at that point I didn't have any other plans.
"I am really not happy about how we played but we wanted to go through to the round of 16 and we have."
Bednarek's well-taken volley following Rafal Kurzawa's free-kick won the match for Poland, who were already eliminated.
Japan substitute Makoto Hasebe, who came on with eight minutes remaining, made a 'card' gesture to his team-mates to make it clear they were through.
But there was criticism of the manner of Japan's progress, with Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill stating: "It takes you back to World Cups in 1982 and 1986, when we saw games like that. It is mind-boggling for me as a coach to leave your whole destiny in the hands of another game, and do it for so long.
"I had developed a bit of a soft spot for Japan, but I hope they get battered in the next round."