Japan's late goal-scoring hero Keisuke Honda
Japan's late goal-scoring hero Keisuke Honda

Japan 2-2 Senegal: Late Honda goal rescues Japan

ANI | Updated: Jun 24, 2018 23:44 IST

Yekaterinburg [Russia], June 24 (ANI): Having shared four goals and the ensuing spoils equally at the Ekaterinburg Arena here on Sunday, both Japan and Senegal failed to cement their place at the top of Group H in the FIFA World Cup 2018.
With victories against Colombia and Poland respectively, a win for either Japan or Poland would have near-guaranteed their place in the round-of-16.
That prospect was looking very much like a reality for Senegal, who took the lead through Liverpool's Sadio Mane and then for a second time through 19-year-old Moussa Wague on 71 minutes after a brilliant Takashi Inui strike had levelled the game.
However, Keisuke Honda, who was subbed on the 72nd minute, scored the decisive equalizer 12 minutes from time to ensure Japan went home with at least a point.
Senegal started the game in the ascension, putting pressure on the Japanese back line from the off.
They were duly rewarded at the 11-minute mark, although not without a slice of luck. A poor clearance attempt from a Wague cross by Genki Haraguchi resulted in the ball falling to Youssouf Sabaly. His weak shot was somehow parried on to Sadio Mane's shin by Japanese keeper Eiji Kawashima, following which the ball crept into the back of the net.
Mane's goal also extended Senegal's record of never being beaten in a match where he was on the scoresheet to 15 games.
Japan's response came around the 34th-minute mark when Inui collected the ball just inside the box and drilled it into the bottom corner.
The second half saw Japan starting on the front foot, missing two good chances just past the hour mark.
To make matters worse, Wague restored Senegal's lead at the 71 minutes after he converted from a Sabaly cross from close range, becoming the youngest African goalscorer in the history of the World Cup.
Japan wasted no time in making attacking substitutions, bringing on Keisuke Honda and Shinji Okazaki in quick succession.
That move was swiftly rewarded, as Honda latched on to a Inui cutback to smash past Khadim N'Diaye in goal.
He also registered his name in the history books as he became the highest scoring Asian player at the World Cup Finals with 4 goals to his name.
Japan will now look to see of Poland in their next game on June 28, while Senegal will play Colombia on the same day. (ANI)