World Cup 2018: Fabianski stars in Poland victory

Lukasz Fabianski in action against Japan


Lukasz Fabianski produced an unbeatable display as Poland ended their 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign with a 1-0 win over with Japan in Samara.

The Poles, who had lost their opening two Group H fixtures at the hands of Senegal and Colombia and were already eliminated ahead of Thursday’s match, drafted in the West Ham United new boy as a replacement for Wojciech Szceszny for their final fixture.

And Fabianski was in fine form as Adam Nawalka’s side secured victory through a superb volleyed finish from Southampton defender Jan Bednarek.

The 33-year-old made first-half saves from Yoshinori Muto, Gotoku Sakai and Takashi Usami to ensure the Europeans went in goalless at the break.

Poland then went ahead on 59 minutes when Rafal Kurzawa delivered a free-kick from wide on the left and Bednarek expertly converted past Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.

Despite Fabianski’s heroics on his 46th appearance for his country, Biało-czerwoni finished bottom of Group H with three points, with Colombia winning the group ahead of the defeated Japanese.

Cheikhou Kouyate’s Senegal finished on four points alongside Japan, with an identical 4-4 goals for-against record, but were eliminated by virtue of accruing more Fair Play points than the Asian side, who had four players booked to the Africans' six.

Colombia or Japan will take on either England or Belgium, who meet on Thursday evening, for a place in the quarter-finals.

Fabianski, who has been signed from relegated Swansea City on a three-year contract, will enjoy a short holiday before linking up with his new West Ham teammates next month.

The goalkeeper could come up against his new Hammers colleague Declan Rice when he next meets up with his national squad, with Poland hosting the Republic of Ireland in a friendly in Wroclaw on Tuesday 11 September. Before that, the Poles travel to Italy in the UEFA Nations League A Group 3 on Friday 7 September.