First red card of World Cup highlights Colombia's disastrous start against Japan

Posted June 19, 2018

The complexion of the game in Saransk was changed radically when Colombia's Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red card of Russian Federation 2018 for handball in the opening minutes of the contest.

Jose Pekerman's side suffered the worst possible start after Carlos Sanchez was sent off for handling Osako's goalbound shot with Shinji Kagawa on hand to calmly slot the resulting penalty (6).

After lengthy protests, Sanchez eventually left the field and Kagawa was allowed to slot the penalty clinically into the bottom right corner of the net and Colombia's game plan was in tatters. They got a deserved equalizer in the 39th minute through Juan Quintero, who slid his free-kick under the wall, where it beat Eiji Kawashima at his near post.

But it was all in vain when Japan's Yuya Osako leapt above his marker to head a corner into the net for the 73rd-minute victor.

The Samurai Blue were aided by the second-quickest ever red card shown at the finals, as Carlos Sanchez was dismissed inside the opening three minutes for a handball inside the box.

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Juan Fernando Quintero will start for James, who is technically available from the bench, against Japan.

Colombia came out on top 4-1 when these sides last met in a World Cup group match four years ago, but there only looked like being one victor on the basis of the second half.

Japan continue their quest for qualification from Group H when they travel to the Central Stadium in Yekaterinburg to face Senegal on Sunday (4pm BST kick-off).

There are also scenarios where the group matches end in a number of draws, which could help Colombia creep back into the mix.

But the Los Cafeteros were stunned in the 73rd minute. After a huge blunder from Colombian defender Carlos Sanchez, who became the first player to be handed a red card in Russian Federation, veteran Shinji Kagawa stepped up to deliver for the Asians as they took a lead. Hiroki Sakai's close-range shot was blocked for a corner and the resultant corner was headed in by Osako.

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The red card was the fastest shown at a World Cup game since Jose Alberto Batista was sent off just 54 seconds for Uruguay against Scotland in 1986.

James Rodriguez was left out of Colombia's starting line-up for their opening World Cup match against Japan on Tuesday as the Brazil 2014 top scorer labours with a calf strain.

Four-times Asian champions Japan lost 4-1 to Colombia in Brazil and have been hamstrung by a poor build-up to the tournament, including the sacking of Bosnian coach Vahid Halilhodzic in April.

"To score a goal at the World Cup has been a dream for me since I was little, so I was extremely happy", said the match-winner.

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