- nice guys finish last
- group stage
- １次リーグのこと（後出 group phase も同意、knockout は決勝トーナメントの）
- (be) eliminated
- in one's own end
- go through
- 勝ち進む（後出 make it out of もここでは同意）
- come from behind
- 【写真説明】 applaud
Nice guys don't necessarily finish last at the World Cup.
Fair play, a newly implemented tiebreaker in the group stage of the world's biggest soccer tournament, was put into use for the first time on June 28 and Japan came out as the beneficiary.
Despite losing 0-1 to Poland, the Japanese were able to advance to a knockout match against Belgium because they received fewer yellow cards than Senegal, which lost to Colombia by the same score at the same time.
Poland, which had already been eliminated, got its goal from defender Jan Bednarek in the 59th minute.
Once Colombia had scored in their match, Japan knew it had done enough to advance even though it was losing late in its game. The Japanese players slowed play down to almost nothing, softly passing the ball back and forth in little triangles in their own end to waste time.
"My decision was to rely on the other match," Japan coach Nishino Akira said. "I'm not too happy about this but ... I forced my players to do what I said. And we went through."
The fans at the Volgograd Arena showed their displeasure by booing over the final minutes. Poland, happy to get a victory after two losses, did little to pressure the opposing side.
Both Japan and Senegal finished the group phase with four points, had the same goal difference and the same amount of goals scored. They also played to a 2-2 draw. The deciding factor came down to Japan having four yellow cards in its three group matches to Senegal's six.
This is the first time in two World Cup tournaments that Japan has made it out of the group stage, and the third time overall. While expectations for Samurai Blue were low after the replacement of their coach two months before Russia, Japan beat Colombia 2-1 on June 19. They did what no other Asian team had ever done at a World Cup － beat a South American squad. Japan then came from behind twice to earn a 2-2 draw with Senegal on June 24. (Compiled from AP and Mainichi reports)
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