Olympics: Nakajima Strike Salvages Draw For Japan Against Colombia


Olympics: Nakajima strike salvages draw for Japan against ColombiaShoya Nakajima spared Hiroki Fujiharu's blushes with a 74th-minute equalizer as Japan came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Colombia on Sunday and keep alive their hopes of progressing to the men's soccer quarterfinals at the Rio Olympics.


Colombia took the lead through captain Teofilo Gutierrez and the South Americans looked to be in control when Fujiharu gifted them a freak own goal in the 65th minute.

But Arsenal striker Takuma Asano reduced the arrears moments later before Nakajima equalized with a fabulous strike to earn Japan their first point of the tournament in Group B.

"All credit to the way the players pushed forward after scoring. They gave it everything they had right to the end," said Japan coach Makoto Teguramori.

"We have to win (the next game) and we will show that we are capable of doing just that."

"I knew I just had to hit it," said Nakajima about his shot that ended in the back of the net. "I felt it was a game we could have won so I am disappointed about that."

"For us to qualify we will be depending on results of other games. We just have to go all out for it (against Sweden)."

Nigeria, who beat Japan 5-4 in a wild match on Thursday, advanced to the last eight with a 1-0 win over Sweden.

Sadiq Umar headed Nigeria in front with his second goal of the tournament with five minutes remaining in the first half, and that would prove to be the decider as the Atlanta Olympic champions made it two wins out of two.

Nigeria lead the group with six points. Colombia, who drew 2-2 with Sweden on Thursday, have two and Japan and Sweden have one apiece.

Japan face Sweden and Nigeria take on the Colombians in the final round of group phase matches on Aug. 10.

In the day's second Group B match at Amazonia Arena, Japan got off to a strong start and Shinya Yajima drew a fine save from Colombia goalkeeper Cristian Bonilla in the 11th minute, before the Fagiano Okayama midfielder put a dangerous cross into the box that was cleared by William Tesillo.

Colombia themselves went close to scoring in the 18th minute, but Japan goalkeeper Kosuke Nakamura, starting at the expense of Masatoshi Kushibiki, got down well to save a stinging effort from Miguel Borja.

The best chance of the first half fell Japan's way, but it was squandered by Fujiharu, who contrived to send a free header wide following a superb cross from Shinzo Koroki.

Asano went desperately close to breaking the deadlock with a shot that came back off the underside of the crossbar at the start of the second half, but it was the Colombians that would take the lead just before the hour mark.

Gutierrez took a return pass from substitute Arley Rodriguez from the edge of the box and beat Nakamura with a shot that took a deflection off Naomichi Ueda on its way into the back of the net.

The Colombians then took the lead thanks to a comical own goal that is sure to haunt Gamba Osaka defender Fujiharu, one of three overage players selected to the side.

Borja tried his luck with a shot which Nakamura saved with his foot, but the rebound fell to Fujiharu who appeared to lose his balance before clipping the ball over his own line.

Japan hit straight back as Asano drilled home after racing onto a cute pass from Takumi Minamino, and Nakajima made it 2-2 with a peach of a long-range strike that flew in after clipping the underside of the crossbar.

In Group C, Serge Gnabry's second goal of the game deep in stoppage time salvaged a point for Germany in a 3-3 draw with South Korea, while Erick Gutierrez scored four of Mexico's goals in a 5-1 rout of Fiji.

In Group D, goals from Tobias Figueiredo and Paciencia saw Portugal come from behind to post their second win with a 2-1 defeat of Honduras, while Argentina ran out 2-1 winners over Algeria thanks to Jonathan Calleri's 70th minute effort.

In Group A, Robert Skov's goal midway through the second half gave Denmark a 1-0 win over South Africa. Hosts Brazil failed to rebound from their disappointing 0-0 draw against 10-man South Africa, as they were held to another goalless stalemate, this time by Iraq.