Senegal, Japan share the spoils in a four-goal thriller


Senegal, Japan share the spoils in a four-goal thriller
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group H - Japan vs Senegal - Ekaterinburg Arena, Yekaterinburg, Russia - June 24, 2018 Senegal's Moussa Wague celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

In Summary

  • Japan twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with Senegal in their World Cup Group H encounter on Sunday.
  • Goals from Senegal captain Sadio Mane and Moussa Wague were matched by strikes from Takashi Inui and Keisuke Honda for the Samurai Blue.

Japan twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with Senegal in their World Cup Group H encounter on Sunday.

Goals from Senegal captain Sadio Mane and Moussa Wague were matched by strikes from Takashi Inui and Keisuke Honda for the Samurai Blue.

 Senegal took the lead in the 11th minute when Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima punched a cross into Mane’s leg and the ball bounced back over the line and in, before Inui’s curled finish on 34 minutes meant the sides went in level at the break.

Wague’s powerful shot into the roof of the net on 64 minutes looked to have secured the points for Senegal, but Japan substitute Honda turned in a brilliant Inui pull-back with 12 minutes remaining to give the Asian side a share of the points.

Soccer Football – World Cup – Group H – Japan vs Senegal – Ekaterinburg Arena, Yekaterinburg, Russia – June 24, 2018 Senegal’s Sadio Mane celebrates with team mates after scoring their first goal REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

The draw means both nations go into the final round of matches on four points at the top of the group.

“They were avoidable goals, that’s clear,” Senegal coach Aliou Cisse said in a blunt assessment of his defence. “The best team was Japan, we have to admit that.”

“We didn’t play a great game but we didn’t lose… I have confidence. Our team has the quality to face Colombia,” he added, looking forward to Thursday’s meeting with the South Americans in Samara. Japan play Poland in Volgograd.

“We’re a bit disappointed… there was a way to win this match,” added Mane, who failed to exert his influence despite scoring. “We started well, we created a lot of opportunities, we were quite dangerous… we now have a decisive match to qualify next week.

ROBUST DEFENDINGSenegal’s back line might have faltered towards the end but they began strongly and their robust defending neutralised any early threat that the Japanese front line posed, allowing their own attackers to push up in numbers.

The Africans went ahead in the 11th minute, although there was an element of luck to their opener.

A poor headed clearance landed right at Youssouf Sabaly’s feet and although goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima managed to parry the defender’s stinging shot from the left, the ball rebounded into the net off Mane’s knee.

Japan regained composure and responded with a well-taken goal with their only shot on target in the opening period to level the score at 1-1.

Yuto Nagatomo controlled a long pass with a deft first touch before rolling the ball into the path of Inui, who cut in from the left and fired a curling shot past a diving N’Diaye.

Senegal appeared to step off the gas towards the end of the half, and the effects were still evident after the restart, as they resorted to long-range efforts that failed to test the Japanese goalkeeper.

They nearly paid for allowing their opponents to run at them, as Yuya Osako narrowly failed to connect with a pass across the box on the hour mark before Inui’s powerful shot struck the bar with the goalkeeper beaten.

Wague appeared to have ended hopes of a Japanese comeback as he drilled Sabaly’s low cross into the goal to send Senegal’s supporters into raptures.

But the Asians were not done yet and hit back again through midfielder Honda, who collected Inui’s pass and prodded into an empty net after goalkeeper N’Diaye stepped off his line and failed to punch the ball away.

“It was a tough match, we knew it would be,” Japan coach Akira Nishino said. “I evaluate it as a very good point. Senegal is a tough team and this result I hope will lead to success in the next match.”

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