Colombia’s Carlos Sanchez became the first player to be sent off at the 2018 World Cup as Japan clinched an entertaining 2-1 win in Saransk.
The 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.
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 as they became the first Asian side to beat South American opposition in a World Cup finals.
James Rodriguez – who finished the 2014 tournament as top scorer – was left out of Colombia’s starting XI due to a muscle injury and his side quickly found themselves facing an uphill task.
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, pictured, broke clear and, although his effort was parried by David Ospina, Kagawa’s follow-up was goalbound until Sanchez stuck out an arm.
Referee Damir Skomina pointed to the spot and 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.
Despite enjoying the lion’s share of the possession, Colombia struggled to carve out chances until Radamel Falcao volleyed straight at former Dundee United keeper 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.
Japan began the second half strongly and eight minutes after the break Kagawa played in Osako, whose shot was beaten away by Ospina.
Hiroki Sakai should have restored Japan’s lead when his 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.
However, from the resulting corner Keisuke Honda’s delivery was headed in by Osako.
Substitute Rodriguez wasted Colombia’s best chance of an equaliser with ten minutes to go when his shot from 12 yards was deflected over the bar.