Greece survived the first-half dismissal of captain Kostas Katsouranis to frustrate Japan at Natal's Estadio das Dunas, although their FIFA World Cup prospects remain bleak.
The match's most notable moment came seven minutes before half-time when Greece skipped Katsouranis – booked in the 27th minute – felled opposite number Makoto Hasebe and was sent off. Vassilis Torossidis promptly went close for the ten men, who held firm throughout the second half, although they remain bottom of Group C with the result meaning Colombia reach the last 16.
Having both lost their first games it was perhaps little surprise the first half was a cagey affair. Yuya Osako was a lively presence for Japan, curling one effort narrowly wide having worked an opening at the corner of the penalty area.
Katsouranis collected his first yellow card for a lunging challenge on Osako just before the half-hour and then brought down Hasebe to be cautioned for the second time. Oddly, that prompted Greece's best chance as the ball broke kindly for Torossidis following his attempted pass to Fanis Gekas, but Eiji Kawashima was down smartly to produce an excellent save.
While Japan had more of the ball as the second half unfolded, Greece continued to look a threat from set pieces. A flurry of Giorgos Karagounis corners shortly before the hour caused problems in the Japanese goalmouth, Gekas meeting one with a downward header; Kawashima stretched to palm away.
Greece were not without their scares, Atsuto Uchida racing on to a defence-splitting pass to lay the ball low across the goalmouth, but Yoshito Okubo lashed high and wide. When Orestis Karnezis dived to his left to push away Yasuhito Endo's low free-kick in the final minutes, Greece had held out – although they stay bottom of the section, behind their opponents on goal difference.
In Group C's early game, Colombia made it two wins from two with a 2-1 defeat of Ivory Coast in Brasilia. AS Monaco FC's James Rodríguez headed the South American side in front four minutes past the hour and when substitute Juan Quintero – of Rodríguez's former club FC Porto – made it two six minutes later it looked all over. A sparkling solo run from Gervinho revived Ivorian hopes, yet their failure to find an equaliser left Colombia clear at the top of the standings, the later result ensuring they progress with a match to spare.
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|1||David Ospina (GK)||1||Boubacar Barry (GK)|
|2||Cristián Zapata||3||Arthur Boka|
|3||Mario Yepes (C)||5||Didier Zokora|
|6||Carlos Sanchez||9||Cheick Tioté|
|9||Teófilo Gutiérrez||15||Max Gradel|
|11||Juan Cuadrado||19||Yaya Touré (C)|
|18||Camilo Zúñiga||22||Souleymane Bamba|
|12||Camilo Vargas (GK)||23||Mandé Sayouba (GK)|
|22||Faryd Mondragón (GK)||16||Sylvain Gbohouo (GK)|
|5||Carlos Carbonero||4||Kolo Touré|
|13||Fredy Guarín||6||Mathis Bolly|
|16||Éder Álvarez Balanta||8||Salomon Kalou|
|17||Carlos Bacca||11||Didier Drogba|
|19||Adrián Ramos||13||Didier Ya Konan|
|21||Jackson Martínez||18||Constant Djakpa|
|23||Carlos Valdes||21||Giovanni Sio|
|José Nestor Pekerman (ARG)||Sabri Lamouchi (FRA)|
|Howard Webb (ENG)|
|Michael Mullarkey (ENG), Darren Cann (ENG)|
|Victor Carrillo (PER)|