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Japan worthy winners, admits Colombia chief Pekerman

Colombia 1 Japan 2

By Alex Williams

Colombia head coach Jose Pekerman admitted that 2-1 winners Japan were the better side in their World Cup encounter in Saransk.

"It's not easy to lose a player like our midfielder Carlos Sanchez in the first three minutes, but we managed to cope with the situation. We even equalised... but Japan managed to adapt to the situation, they managed to score, as they played better," Pekerman said.

He added that his team became tired after they were reduced to 10 men so early in the game.

"There were possibilities to attack, but when you have 10 men instead of 11, it means one is missing in the middle... we lost because we were tired," Pekerman added.

Colombia midfielder Sanchez became the first player to get a red card at this year's tournament.

His sending-off in the third minute, for a deliberate handball, was the second fastest in World Cup history after Uruguay's Jose Batista was dismissed after 55 seconds against Scotland in 1986.

Shinji Kagawa scored from the resulting penalty to give Japan the lead in the Group H match.

Juan Quintero's clever low free kick in the 39th minute gave Colombia the equaliser, but Yuya Osako leapt above his marker to head a corner into the net for Japan's 73rd-minute winner.

It was also sweet revenge for Japan, who were thumped 4-1 by the same opponents in Brazil in 2014, but they wasted plenty of chances to kill the game off earlier.

Japan coach Akira Nishino said: "It's the result that counts. Luck is important but it's not going to do the job."

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