Japan held goal-less by 10-man Greece

02:33, Jun 20 2014
Teo Gutierrez
Teo Gutierrez celebrates Colombia's second goal in a 3-0 rout of Greece in Belo Horizonte.
James Rodriguez
James Rodriguez (bottom) celebrates Colombia's third goal against Greece.
Orestis Karnezis
Greece goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis watches as Colombia's first goal rolls across the line.
Colombians
Colombia players dance in unison after their first goal in Belo Horizonte.
Giorgos Samaras
Greece's Giorgos Samaras holds the ball as Colombia's Juan Camilo Zuniga hassles him.
Panagiotis Kone
Greece's Panagiotis Kone reacts after missing an open shot.
Didier Drogba
Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast controls the ball against Keisuke Honda of Japan during their Group C match.
Celebration
The Ivory Coast celebrate their second goal scored by Gervinho during the Group C match between the Ivory Coast and Japan.
Yaya Toure
Maya Yoshida of Japan tackles Yaya Toure of the Ivory Coast.
Japan fans
Supporters of Japan cheer during their 2014 World Cup Group C soccer match against Ivory Coast.
Japan goal
Keisuke Honda of Japan (2nd L) celebrates scoring the team's first goal with teammates during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between the Ivory Coast and Japan
Slide
Yuto Nagatomo of Japan tackles Gervinho of the Ivory Coast during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between the Ivory Coast and Japan
Teo Gutierrez
Teo Gutierrez high-fives team-mates after Juan Quintero made it 2-0 in the 70th minute against Ivory Coast.
Serge Aurier
Ivory Coast's Serge Aurier runs towards a big ball during the Group C match between Colombia and Ivory Coast.
Wilfried Bony
Colombia's Cristian Zapata watches as Ivory Coast's Wilfried Bony jumps.
Colombia fans
Colombia fans celebrate Juan Quintero's goal during the Group C match between Colombia and Ivory Coast.
Vanishing spray
Referee Howard Webb of England sprays vanishing spray on the pitch during the Group C match between Colombia and Ivory Coast.
Juan Quintero
Colombia's Juan Quintero scores his team's second goal past Ivory Coast's goalkeeper Boubacar Barry.
Japan v Greece
Yoshito Okubo of Japan is challenged by Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Greece
Japan v Greece
Eiji Kawashima of Japan punches clear during the 2Group C match between Japan and Greece.
Japan v Greece
Greece's Giorgios Samaras commits a foul against Japan's Atsuto Uchida.
Japan v Greece
Japan's Yoshito Okubo reacts after missing a chance to score a goal during their Group C match against Greece.
Japan v Greece
Fans arrive before the Group C match between Japan and Greece.
Japan v Greece
Greece's Vasilis Torosidis heads the ball against Japan.
Colombia v Japan
Japan's Yoshito Okubo tries to score past Colombia's Carlos Valdes.
Colombia v Japan
Colombia's James Rodriguez scores their fourth goal against Japan.
Colombia v Japan
Japan's Keisuke Honda reacts after Colombia scored their fourth goal.
Colombia v Japan
Colombia's Santiago Arias (R) fights for the ball with Japan's Shinji Kagawa
Colombia v Japan
Yoshito Okubo of Japan and Eder Alvarez Balanta of Colombia.
Colombia v Japan
Colombia's goalkeeper David Ospina stops an attempt at goal as Japan's Yoshito Okubo jumps against Pablo Armero.
Greece v Ivory Coast
Greece's Giorgios Samaras goes down in the challenge of Ivory Coast's Giovanni Sio to win a penalty.
Greece v Ivory Coast
Greece's Giorgios Samaras consoles Ivory Coast's Boubacar Barry, after he scored a penalty past Barry.
Greece v Ivory Coast
Greece celebrate after defeating the Ivory Coast 2-1.
Greece v Ivory Coast
Serge Aurier of the Ivory Coast challenges Giorgos Samaras of Greece.
Greece v Ivory Coast
A general view of action as Giorgos Karagounis of Greece takes a free kick during the Group C match against the Ivory Coast.
Greece v Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast's Wilfried Bony scores against Greece.

Reduced to 10 men after captain Costas Katsouranis was sent off in the 38th minute with his second booking, Greece held on for a 0-0 draw with Japan today that kept both alive in Group C and sent rival Colombia through to the knockout round of the World Cup.

Both teams inserted new strikers in search of goals and a first victory, but ultimately the main objective was survival and both achieved that with one match left in group play. Japan would have been eliminated with a loss.

Once Katsouranis was sent off after a rough challenge on Makoto Hasebe, Greece withdrew into a defensive setup and held firm.

Keisuke Honda
IN CONTROL: Japan's Keisuke Honda keeps his eye on the ball against Greece in Natal.

Greece surrendered three goals in a loss to Colombia, but even short-handed were better organised against Japan and avoided any critical mistakes.

Japan pressed the attack after halftime and had several chances to score.  The best came in the 68th minute when Shinji Kagawa played a long pass over the top to Atsuto Uchida, who sent it back across the middle to Yoshito Okubo, who blasted the volley over the net.  

Greece goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis also was forced to make a diving save in injury time to preserve the draw and the point for Greece. Greece were determined to turn around their dismal scoring history in the World Cup - 18 goals conceded against just two scored - inserting Kostas Mitroglou up front.

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But Mitroglou's best effort was an early volley that spun off his foot and he didn't even make it to halftime.

After taking an elbow in the side in the 30th minute, Mitroglou collapsed to the ground. He got up and walked off under his own power but soon determined he couldn't continue and was taken off for Theofanis Gekas in the 35th minute.

Things got worse for Greece just moments later when Katsouranis was sent off. Greece retreated into their own half of the field for most of the second half.

Japan, who had been beaten up in a physical matchup with Ivory Coast in a 2-1 opening loss, once again had to deal with a bigger, stronger and much taller opponent.

Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni dropped Shinji Kagawa from the starting lineup in surprise move, putting veteran striker Yoshito Okubo up front with Europe-based star Keisuke Honda.  Okubo had one of Japan's best chances to score in the first half but sent his header over the crossbar in the 33rd minute.  

 

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