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Japan started their World Cup campaign with a surprise 2-1 win over Colombia

Yuya Osako celebrates scoring Japan's winner Photo: AP

Japan started their World Cup campaign with a surprise win over Colombia in Group H, 2-1 the scoreline in a match which saw the first red card of Russia 2018.

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Credit: AP

Colombia's Carlos Sanchez became the first player to be sent off at the 2018 World Cup as Japan secured an entertaining 2-1 win in Saransk.

The former Aston Villa midfielder was dismissed after just four minutes in the Group H opener for deliberate handball and Shinji Kagawa made no mistake with the resulting penalty.

Credit: AP

Colombia equalised shortly before half-time through Juan Quintero's free-kick, but Japan dominated the second half and were good value for Yuya Osako's late winner.

James Rodriguez - who finished the 2014 tournament as top scorer - was left out of Colombia's starting XI due to a muscle injury and the South American side quickly found themselves facing an uphill task.

Credit: AP

The first red card of the tournament was produced in the opening exchanges, with Sanchez given his marching orders for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity.

Osako broke clear and, although his initial effort was parried by David Ospina, Kagawa's follow-up effort was goalbound until Sanchez stuck out an arm.

Credit: PA

Referee Damir Skomina had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and immediately dismissed Sanchez, with Kagawa's Panenka penalty giving Japan the lead after six minutes.

Takashi Inui missed a good chance to double Japan's advantage after 18 minutes when he curled an effort narrowly past the far post after good build-up work by Kagawa.

Credit: AP

Despite enjoying the lion's share of the possession - and much of it in Japan's half - Colombia struggled to carve out chances until Radamel Falcao volleyed straight at goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima after 34 minutes.

Kawashima's error then gifted Colombia an equaliser, with Quintero's low free-kick creeping over the line at the near post after Falcao was brought down on the edge of the area.

Credit: AP

Japan began the second half strongly and eight minutes after the break Kagawa played in Osako, whose shot on the turn was beaten away by Ospina.

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Arsenal keeper Ospina again had to be alert to turn away Inui's 57th-minute effort and moments later Colombia boss Jose Pekerman introduced talisman Rodriguez.

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Hiroki Sakai should have restored Japan's lead when his low cross from the right was played back to him by Osako, only for the full-back to drill the ball at Oscar Murillo, with the deflection taking the effort wide.

Credit: AP

However, from the resulting corner, Keisuke Honda's delivery was headed in by Osako.

Credit: AP

Rodriguez wasted Colombia's best chance of an equaliser 10 minutes from time when his shot from 12 yards was deflected over the bar.

Credit: AP