Although Japan lost to a 59th-minute goal scored by Jan Bednarek and were "out" of the tournament for around 16 minutes, news of Yerry Mina's 74th-minute goal for Colombia against Senegal which saw Japan into the last 16 on fair play rules clearly filtered through.
Japan, of course, will be toasting the system, and they were more than happy to exploit it on field after learning of Yerry Mina's second-half victor for Colombia in the Senegal match, which set up the "fair play" tiebreaker.
Despite signing off with a win, it was ultimately a frustrating first World Cup appearance for the likes of the highly rated Piotr Zielinski, but even more so Robert Lewandowski, who will be 30 in August and, despite his recent protestations to the contrary, is by no means guaranteed to be involved should Poland return to this stage in Qatar in 2022.
When Bednarek scored, Japan was facing elimination.
Japan have reached the knockout round at the World Cup three times in the last five tournaments. "I would like to play both of them because they will pose a fantastic challenge for us".
Akira Nishino's call to change his Japan team nearly backfired as they progressed on fair play after a 1-0 defeat to Poland. In two previous appearances at the World Cup, 2002 and 2006, Poland also lost its opening two games but went on to finish the tournaments with victories over the United States and Costa Rica.
Japan at least drew encouragement from their first sight of goal and Yoshinori Muto's drive forced Lukasz Fabianski to parry, before the goalkeeper smothered a tame Gotoku Sakai effort.
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Nishino made six changes to the starting lineup ahead of the match, saying some of his players were tired.
His cleverly directed header looked destined for the bottom corner until Kawashima made up huge amounts of ground to claw it to safety with a big right hand at full stretch.
Jan Bednarek's fine volley was enough for them to triumph, but this result does not alter the fact that the Poles should have done better at this World Cup.
"They are both world-class teams", said Nishino. It was a weird game where neither side looked deserving of a win, but it was Poland who would go home with a win while Samurai Blue barely get by.
The star midfielder was subbed out just 31 minutes into his squad's final group match, in Samara against Senegal, which is tied 0-0 at the half.
Such was the curious conclusion to the group stage at the World Cup on Thursday. "Now we're playing the last match just for honor", Grosiki said. Poland really didn't chase the ball down either as they had nothing to play for and were content with the scoreline.
Japan will play the winners of Group G - either England or Belgium - in Rostov-on-Don on Monday July 2.