Greece’s ten men held on for a goalless draw with Japan in their 2014 FIFA World Cup™ Group C match at the Estadio das Dunas on Thursday evening. The Japanese could not take advantage of Greece’s numerical disadvantage to break the deadlock even after captain Costas Katsouranis was sent off in the 38th minute. The result sends Colombia to the next round of the World Cup and keeps Japan and Greece’s hopes to make the next round alive.
Katsouranis’s red card came after a rasping challenge on Japan’s Makoto Hasebe, steering the Mediterranean men to a defensive approach and holding on resolutely to share the spoils. Either side would have been eliminated with a defeat. The Asians drove hopeful attacks but with no luck to separate both sides.
In the 33rd minute Yoshito Okubo had one of Japan’s best chances to take the lead in the first half but sent his header over the crossbar. In the second half the Japanese pressed and a clear cut opportunity came in the 68th minute when Shinji Kagawa played a long pass over the top to reach Atsuso Uchida, who sent it across the middle to Yoshito Okubo, who blasted the shot over the bar. Greece goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis was called into action several times to preserve the draw and the point for the Europeans.
Colombia is at the summit of Group C with 6 points, followed by Ivory Coast with 3. Japan and Greece each have one after this Natal meeting. The Blue Samurai will face the Colombians while the Greeks will lock horns with the Ivorians in the last group encounters.