Argentina set up a World Cup quarter-final against Wales as Mateo Carreras’ hat-trick helped them see off Japan 39-27 in their winner-takes-all Pool D clash.
With both sides knowing victory would see them take second place in the pool at the other’s expense to join table-toppers England in the next round, Los Pumas sealed the spot after scoring five tries in Nantes, with Carreras the star man.
A fast start by Michael Cheika’s side saw Santiago Chocobares burst through a crowd of players to cross in the second minute, with Emiliano Boffelli successfully converting.
Jamie Joseph’s Japan hit back in the 16th minute when Amata Fakatava chipped over a defender, reclaimed the ball and touched down, and Rikiya Matsuda kicked the extras, before the Brave Blossoms were reduced to 14 men by a yellow card for Pieter Labuschagne.
Carerras then registered his first try to put Argentina back in front in the 28th minute and a subsequent penalty from Boffelli – who had missed one earlier, along with his second conversion attempt – made it 15-7.
Japan again rallied, with Naoto Saito crossing and Matsuda converting to leave a point in it heading into the interval.
Carreras registered his second try, converted by Boffelli, early in the second half, before a Matsuda penalty and Lomano Lemeki drop goal closed the gap to two points at 22-20.
Argentina then wrapped things up as Boffelli scored a try and converted, and Carreras subsequently completed his treble, with Nicolas Sanchez kicking that conversion and a further penalty with five minutes left.
They will now take on Wales in Marseille on Saturday.
Japan v Argentina - Match Highlights
Japan v Argentina - Match Stats
Japan (14) 27
Try: Fakatava (16'), Saito (38'), Naikabula (65')
Conversion: Matsuda (17', 39', 67')
Penalty: Matsuda (52')
Drop-goal: Lemeki (56')
Argentina (15) 39
Try: Chocobares (2'), Carreras (28', 46', 68'), Boffelli (58')
Conversion: Boffelli (2', 47', 60'), Sanchez (70')
Penalty: Boffelli (35'), Sanchez (75')
Man of the match: Mateo Carreras (Argentina)