The two teams had met in one previous match, in a friendly in 1994, where Colombia won 2–0. Colombia midfielder Fredy Guarín was suspended for the match, after being sent off in the team's final qualifier against Paraguay.
The two teams had met in three previous matches, all in friendlies, most recently in 2010.
Japan took the lead in the first half, when Keisuke Honda collected a pass from Yuto Nagatomo after a quick throw-in to strike home with his left foot high into the net.
However, Ivory Coast came back with two goals in two minutes in the second half, first Wilfried Bony headed in from Serge Aurier's cross from the right from six yards, followed by a Gervinho header from six yards from another cross from Aurier on the right.
With his goal, Honda became the first Japanese player to score in two World Cups, and also claimed sole possession of being the top Japanese scorer in World Cup history with three total goals.
Greece was reduced to ten men in the first half when Kostas Katsouranis was booked twice in eleven minutes. In the second half, Greece had a Theofanis Gekas header saved, while Japan, which needed at least a point to stay alive in the competition, had chances to score through Yoshito Ōkubo and Atsuto Uchida, but the game finished goalless. The result ensured Colombia's qualification to the knockout stage, their first since 1990.
This was the first clean sheet kept by Greece in World Cup history.
The two teams had met in two previous matches, most recently in a friendly in 2007, and also in the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup group stage, won by Colombia 1–0.
Colombia took the lead mid-way through the first half, with Juan Cuadrado taking a penalty kick, shooting low down the middle after Japan centre back Yasuyuki Konno fouled Colombia striker Adrián Ramos in the box.
Japan then equalised through Shinji Okazaki's headed goal from a cross from Keisuke Honda on the right in first half stoppage time. Colombia's James Rodríguez was introduced after the half time break, and was credited for providing two assists for two goals scored by Jackson Martínez, on 55 minutes when he shot low to the net with his left foot, and 82 minutes when he curled the ball in from the right of the penalty area with his left foot, before finishing off the scoring with a strike of his own, assisted by Ramos, where he beat the last man before clipping the ball over the goalkeeper. Colombia, which had already qualified for the knockout stage but needed a point to be certain of winning the group, finished as group winners with a perfect record of three wins out of three, while Japan, which had to win the match to have any chance to qualify, were eliminated.
Faryd Mondragón became the oldest player to make an appearance in the history of the World Cup, at the age of 43 years, 3 days, when he came on for the last five minutes of the match, breaking the record of Roger Milla, who played at the 1994 World Cup at the age of 42. He also set the record for the longest time between World Cup appearances as 15 years and 363 days had passed since his last versus England at the 1998 World Cup, breaking Alfred Bickel's record of 12 years and 13 days between appearances (1938–1950).
Greece, which had to win to have any chance to qualify for the knockout stage, went in front in the 42nd minute after Cheick Tioté's defensive mistake allowed substitute Andreas Samaris to steal the ball, play a one-two with Georgios Samaras, and run in on goal before shooting past the goalkeeper with his right foot. In the second half, substitute Wilfried Bony equalised with a low right foot finish after Gervinho's pass from the left. As Japan were losing to Colombia in the other match played at the same time, Ivory Coast only required a point to qualify for the knockout stage for the first time. The game looked to be heading for a draw, until Greece won a penalty in injury time when Giovanni Sio tripped Samaras as he was about to strike the ball, and Samaras scored the penalty hitting the ball to the goalkeeper's left. The win meant Greece finished as the group runners-up, and put them into the knockout stage for the first time in its World Cup history (after unsuccessful campaigns in 1994 and 2010), while Ivory Coast were eliminated in the group stage for the third tournament in a row.