Group H always looked like the most unpredictable at this World Cup, and so it felt appropriate that its opening match saw underdogs Japan beat favorites Colombia, thanks to goals either side of halftime from Shinji Kagawa and Yuya Osako.
After 73 minutes, Japan were within a whisker of restoring their lead when Saki's fierce strike was deflected wide - but they broke through from the resulting corner as Osako headed home off the inside of the post.
Ospina was called into action again moments later, diving full length to his left to push Takashi Inui's curling 20-yard shot away from danger, before Pekerman sent on James as he sought a way to turn the tide back in favour of his side.
Japan were handed a slice of good fortune after Carlos Sanchez was correctly dismissed for using his arm to keep out Osako's shot after Ospina had done well to initially deny Kagawa.
Brazil 2014 topscorer James Rodriguez came on for the last half-hour after labouring in training with a calf strain but could not pull his side level after Osako's goal.
It was the second-fastest red card in World Cup finals history, bettered only by the 52 seconds it took Jose Batista of Uruguay to be sent off against Scotland at Mexico '86.
Japan were unhappy with the referee's decision to award the free kick, though, as they felt Falcao went to ground far too easily once barged into by Makoto Hasebe. The forward missed the World Cup four years ago due to an anterior cruciate ligament problem.
Japan pressed after the break, forcing Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina into a string of saves.
Radamel Falcao is set to lead his side out against Japan on Tuesday afternoon, in what will be his first World Cup game at the age of 32. Coach Akira Nishino was appointed just two months before the start of the tournament and doesn't have an idea about his first XI and star players are all battling for form ahead of the crucial encounter. The South Americans are the better team, and are very much capable of stealing a point or three.