Greece survived the first-half dismissal of captain Kostas Katsouranis to frustrate Japan at Natal's Arena das Dunas, although their FIFA World Cup prospects remain bleak.
The match's most notable moment came seven minutes before half-time when Greece skipper 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 stay bottom of Group C with the result meaning Colombia reach the last 16.
With both teams having lost their first games, it was perhaps little surprise the opening period 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 onto 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 – yet they remain at the foot of the section, behind their opponents on goal difference.
In Group C's early kick-off, 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 – doubled the advantage six minutes later it looked all over. A sparkling solo run from Gervinho revived Ivorian hopes, but their failure to find an equaliser sent Colombia clear at the top of the standings, the later result ensuring they progress with a match to spare.