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Japan come from behind twice to draw with Senegal
June 25, 2018, 12:30 am

Japan and Senegal remain well placed to reach the knockout stage of the World Cup - and a last-16 date with England or Belgium - after an entertaining draw in Ekaterinburg.

Sadio Mane put Senegal ahead from close range after an awful mistake by Eiji Kawashima, the ball flying past the Japan keeper after his attempted punched clearance hit the Liverpool forward.

Japan were level before half-time through Takashi Inui's lovely curling finish, before Yuya Osako hit the crossbar.

Nineteen-year-old defender Moussa Wague thought he had sealed Senegal's second straight Group H win with a fine finish from an angle but substitute Keisuke Honda salvaged a point for Japan moments after coming on.

Japan and Senegal have four points after two games, while Group H rivals Poland and Colombia are both chasing their first points of the tournament when they meet in Kazan at 19:00 BST.

Despite another point, Senegal will be disappointed they could not follow up their 2-1 win over Poland last week by becoming the first African side to win two group games since Ghana in 2006.

But 16 years on from their debut World Cup, the Teranga Lions continue to win new fans in Russia.

While Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia are already making plans to return home after failing to secure a point, Senegal can still ensure Africa has at least one representative in the last 16.

However, Aliou Cisse will be frustrated his players failed to build on Mane's opener after Kawashima's howler.

Senegal were well in control but failed to build on their strong start and Inui's smart finish, after Yuto Nagatomo created the chance, saw Japan draw level with their first shot on target.

Even after Wague restored Senegal's advantage with a sweeping finish, they were unable to see the game out - keeper Khadim N'Diaye's failed clearance leading to Honda's equaliser.

In 2002, the likes of Henri Camara and El Hadji Diouf helped Senegal reach the quarter-finals under Bruno Metsu. If Senegal's class of 2018 hope to emulate that achievement they will have to cut out the mistakes.

Group H

Hard-working Japan rewarded with a point

Japan were one of the first teams to book their place in Russia, qualifying last August.

Having gone out early in Brazil four years ago with one point, they now have four at this tournament and could be set for an extended stay.

They started slowly and Kawashima's blunder threatened to prove costly.

However, Japan regained their composure and took control before the interval before wasting a glorious chance to take the lead for the first time with the game 1-1, Osako failing to connect right in front of Senegal's net.

Japan were gifted their equaliser by Senegal's keeper, with Honda now the top-scoring Asian player in World Cup history, netting four goals in nine appearances in the competition.

However, they deserved that moment of fortune after a hard-working performance.

Man of the match - Sadio Mane (Senegal)

Sadio Mane celebrates scoring for Senegal against Japan at the World Cup

There was a touch of fortune about Sadio Mane's goal but he went on to provide some of Senegal's best moments as they secured what could be a crucial point.

Why Honda loves the World Cup - the stats

  • Keisuke Honda scored in his third different World Cup finals tournament for Japan (2010, 2014, 2018) - he is the first Japanese player to do this.
  • Honda's goal was his 37th for Japan, tying him level with Hiromi Hara as the fourth highest goalscorer for the national team.
  • Senegal have not lost any of the 15 international matches that Sadio Mane has scored in for them (W9 D6 L0).
  • Senegal's 19-year-old Moussa Wague became only the second teenager to score at the 2018 World Cup, after France's Kylian Mbappe.


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