Mon, 30 Nov, -0001
Cuiaba: Head coach Alberto Zaccheroni put a brave face on Japan's 4-1 humbling at the hands of Colombia as the Asian champions bowed out of the 2014 FIFA World Cup at the group stage, with the Italian taking comfort from the fact that his side put in a better performance than they did in their previous two matches.
Japan's slender hopes of joining Colombia in the last 16 were given a massive blow in the 17th minute when Yasuyuki Konno upended Adrian Ramos in the area allowing Juan Cuadrado to open the scoring form the penalty spot before Shinji Okazaki's superb stoppage-time diving header at the near post following Keisuke Honda's cross saw an evenly-fought first half finish 1-1.
The impressive James Rodriguez came off the bench to set up two goals for Jackson Martinez before the Monaco star maintained his goal-a-game ratio with Colombia's fourth as the South Americans were able to exploit spaces at the back as Japan endeavoured to find their way back into the match.
"After our previous results we had no option but to go and give it everything we had against the strongest side in Group C," reflected Zaccheroni.
"I think we played a lot better today than we did in the previous two matches. You could see that, especially in the first half."
The former Inter and AC Milan manager said that his side was always on the back foot going into the Colombia game after failing to find their rhythm in their first two Group C matches against Cote d'I'oire and Greece.
"Sadly for us, we didn't approach the tournament in the right way and we didn't play our usual game in the first two matches. This team could have done a lot, lot more. Unfortunately we didn't, and as the coach I feel responsible for that."