After the disappointment of another England loss, the attention turned to Group C as Japan and Greece faced off in another do or die match that has been a recurring theme throughout the second round of games.
Both sides went into the game losing their first games of the group stages. Japan suffered from a quick fire double to go down 2-1 to the Ivory Coast whilst Greece was overpowered by Colombia and suffered a heavy 3-0 loss. So both sides needed the 3 points to have any hope of progressing through to the Knock out stages.
The early stages of the game produced a cagey encounter where very little in the line of goal chances as Japan retained the majority of possession. Greek Midfielder Kone having a shot on the Japanese goal in the 11th being the only shot on target in what was becoming a drab first 45 minutes.
Japan Striker Okazaki brought some excitement into the game as he found himself in space at the edge of the Greek box. The Mainz striker let off a finessed shot at goal, which beat the keeper but sadly went just wide of getting the game’s first goal. After that chance Japan sparked into life as they frequently had balls into the Greek box, although none of them would equate to a shot on target as the search for the game’s first goal continued.
Keisuke Honda came close on the 28 minute mark as Japan were awarded a free kick just outside the Greek box as Dortmund Defender Sokratis brought down a Japanese player. The Milan Midfielder’s effort was saved effortlessly by the keeper although he failed to keep hold of the ball in what was a nervy few seconds for the EURO 2004 Winners.
Fulham striker Mitroglou continued his disastrous 2014 as he was forced off after 34 minutes nursing a back injury. He was replaced by Gekas. The former Olympiakos had failed to shine at Fulham prior to the World Cup as he endured a spell on the injury list as the West London side went on to get relegated.
Things got worse for Greece a matter of minutes later as Greek Captain Katsouranis was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence. The second yellow card was resulting from a mistimed tackle on Japanese Midfielder Hasabe. Fetzafidis saw his game cut short as he made way for Karagounis in order to make up for the gap in the Greek defence.
Nonetheless the Greek heads did not dip as they put pressure on the Japan defence, forcing a great save out of Kawashima.
Greece got the second half off with what should go down as the most audacious shot of the World Cup as they attempted to chip Kawashima straight from kick off. The 50 yard attempt went harmlessly wide. They again came closest to breaking the deadlock as they tested Kawashima again with a headed chance at goal after what was their second of three successive corners.
Japan blew arguably the best chance to score the first goal of the game as Okoubo skied what seemed a certain goal after Uchida was found in acres of space and put in a low cross across the goal mouth. The look on FC Nurnberg player’s face clearly showed how big of a chance he missed.
They then went onto miss another clear cut chance as the ball was left bouncing about the Greek 6 yard box, for it to be met by a snap shot from Uchida. The Japanese right back missing the goal and gave the goalkeeper little to do.
Greece managed to hang on in the end as they showed how great their defence is, replicating the the same sort of defensive strength that won them the EURO 2004. However with both teams now only on one point, they now must win their final game and hope that results go their way to have any hope of progressing through to the knock out stages.