Natal (Brazil), June 20 :
Japan was held goalless by 10-man Greece in their World Cup Group C match here Thursday after squandering numerous scoring chances here Thursday.
The Greek skipper Katsouranis was out after picking up his second yellow card in the 38th minute as he slid in and mistimed his challenge on Japan’s captain Hasebe. However Japan still found difficult to score though they had a 68 percent ball possession advantage in the do-or-die match, reports Xinhua.
With Japan losing its opener 2-1 to Cote d’Ivoire and Greece getting thumped 3-0 by Colombia, both teams desperately need a win to stay in contention to qualify for the last 16 knockout stage of football’s biggest international tournament.
In another match in Group C, Colombia beat Cote d’Ivoire 2-1 and with the goalless draw between Japan and Greece, Colombia advance to the knockout stages.
Japan’s Shinji Kagawa was left on the bench as the Manchester United player struggled to make an impact in the first match. While Kostas Mitroglou, Greece’s top scorer in qualifying, was in the starting 11 for Greece, but he got injured in the 35th minutes and was substituted by Theofanis Gekas.
Japan controlled the rhythm at the beginning but it was Greece who created the threat first. On 4th minute, Mitroglou found space in the Japanese penalty area, but his shot was just over the bar. Six minutes later, Kone broke free of the Japanese midfield after taking the ball inside his own half, but his shot was blocked by goalkeeper Kawashima.
The Blue Samurai fought back in the 21st minute, Osako curled an effort from long range, which flashed wide of goalkeeper Karnezis’ left-hand post.
Though Katsouranis was off in the 38th minute, Greek didn’t give up as Torosidis hammered a shot which forced Kawashima to dive to his left and turned it round the post.
After a goalless first half, Shinji Kagawa was brought on in the 57th minute to strengthen Japanese attack. However they still failed to break down the ten men of Greece.
On 68 minutes, Atsuto Uchida hit the ball across the goal, providing Yoshito Okubo with a perfect opportunity to open the scoring, but he blazed over from close range.
Three minutes later, Japan was given another opportunity as Greece defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos inexplicably dribbled across his own six yard box before Atsuto Uchida came in with a shot, which just went wide.