They were touted as the favourites to be knocked out of group H first, but all the predictions changed after the Samurai Blue's defeated a 10-man Colombia side 2-1 courtesy of a 3rd minute Shinji Kagawa goal and a 73rd-minute victor from Yuya Osako.
Senegal, who lost 1-0 to Colombia, ended up level on points, goal difference and goals scored with Japan so the teams were separated by the tie-break rule introduced at this World Cup for the first time.
Intrigued by a commercial promotion for the game that was clearly influenced by "Monday Night Football", the family attends the match.
The already eliminated Poles made five changes as they bid to end the tournament on a high after losing 2-1 to Senegal and 3-0 to Colombia.
"The situation forced me to make this decision".More news: Sweden beat Mexico to top Group F
"I chose to keep the status quo in our game, and rely instead on the other result".
"It was a day when Japan became pragmatic at the World Cup", Yamamoto said, adding, "I want the players to switch their mindset for the next round and put in a performance that they can proudly show to children aspiring to be professional footballers".
Nishino made six changes to the starting lineup ahead of the match, saying some of his players were worn out.
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 right hand at full stretch.
For after Colombia scored against Senegal in the 74th minute, putting qualification in Japan's hands, coach Akira Nishino ordered his players to take no risks, an approach that slowed the game and earned resounding boos from the crowd.
Poland, for the third straight World Cup that it has competed in, lost its first two group matches and then won its third.