Japan vs. Greece: World Cup Group C Score, Grades & Post-Match Reaction

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Japan vs. Greece: World Cup Group C Score, Grades & Post-Match Reaction
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Japan and Greece played out a 0-0 draw in their World Cup Group C clash in Natal.

It proved to be a superb rearguard action from Greece, who had to play for the best part of an hour with 10 men following the dismissal of captain Kostas Katsouranis.

Japan tried hard to find the breakthrough, but they lacked cutting edge in the final third and are now on the back foot in terms of qualification.

"This is not a positive result," Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni said, per Reuters. "We absolutely needed to win."

Both sides have one point apiece, but Greece face Ivory Coast in their final game while Japan must do battle with group leaders Colombia.

Greece showed little by way of an attacking threat in their Group C opener against Colombia. Solidity at the back is their stock in trade, but Panagiotis Kone gave the Greek fans something to cheer early on when striding forward and stinging the palms of Japan keeper Eiji Kawashima. 

Kone’s effort was promising for Greece, but it was Japan who dominated possession, moving the ball around crisply and at pace.

Yuya Osako twice went close for Japan, testing keeper Orestis Karnezis with a low shot and then curling a shot narrowly wide.

Keisuke Honda is the key midfield cog for Japan, and he showed his prowess from free-kicks with a powerful strike that forced a save from Karnezis.

Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

The Greeks were dealt a huge blow in the 38th minute the first half when Katsouranis was sent off for a second booking. He should have no complaints as he lunged wildly into a challenge when already on a caution.

Greece retreated into their shell, but still carried a threat at set pieces. Theofanis Gekas climbed high at a corner to force a save out of Kawashima.

Japan threw on Shinji Kagawa in the second half in a bid to add some creative spark.

A big chance came their way on 68 minutes, when Kagawa picked out the run of Atsuto Uchida. The full-back delivered a great ball across the box but, with the goal gaping, Yoshito Okubo smashed his effort high and wide.

Japan continued to probe for an opening, but they simply could not find a way through a Greek side who defended as if their lives depended on it.

"We were good in terms of determination, courage and defence but we weren't able to counter-attack," Greece coach Fernando Santos said, via Reuters. "Without the red card we probably could have won the game."

The point the Greeks earned could yet prove invaluable. They face Ivory Coast in their final game, knowing a win will be enough to take them through to the knockout stages provided the impressive Colombia side do not lose to Japan.

Japan Player Ratings
Player 1st Half Rating 2nd Half Rating
Eiji Kawashima 7 6
Atsuto Uchida 8 7
Maya Yoshida 7 7
Yasuyuki Konno 6 6
Yuto Nagatomo 7 7
Makoto Hasebe 7 6
Hotaru Yamaguchi 6 6
Shinji Okazaki 6 6
Keisuke Honda 6 6
Yoshito Okubo 6 6
Yuya Osako 7 6
Substitutes
Yasuhito Endo 6
Shinji Kagawa 6

B/R

Greece Player Ratings
Player 1st Half Rating 2nd Half Rating
Orestis Karnezis 7 8
Vasilis Torosidis 6 7
Sokratis Papastathopoulos 7 7
Kostas Manolas 7 7
Jose Holebas 6 6
Giannis Fetfatzidis 5 6
Panagiotis Kone 7 7
Giannis Maniatis 6 6
Kostas Katsouranis 3 -
Georgios Samaras 4 6
Kostas Mitroglou 5 5
Substitutes
Theofanis Gekas 4 6
Giorgos Karagounis 5 6
Dimitrios Salpingidis 6

B/R

 

Post-match reaction

Greece head coach Fernando Santos is now focused on the final group game, against Ivory Coast, as Sky Sports reported.

We struggled to even get close to the Japanese box, particularly in the first half. That's why I feel we played really well in the second 45 minutes.

We thought Japan might change their style and play more long balls, rather than always playing short passes.

We now need to win our next game because Ivory Coast have three points and we've just one.

We need to find a way to put the Ivorians under pressure.

I hope that everything turns out like Euro 2004, when Greece also needed to win their last (group) game and ended up going through.

Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni was left to rue the lack of a cutting edge in his side, as Sky Sports reported.

We needed to win this game at all costs and that was what we trained for all week.

We ended up with the players switching their individual positions a lot. By doing that, we hoped to get an edge both in defence and attack once the Greeks went a man down.

In addition, we tried to attack a lot down the flanks. In the end we were partly able to manage this, but we needed to be more decisive in front of goal.

In the second half we had maybe 70 percent or more of the ball and we also created chances.

But unfortunately we weren't able to put the finishing touch to our moves. We need to keep playing well and win our next game.

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