Japan show spirit to hit back twice and deny profligate Senegal


Keisuke Honda was Japan's hero once again as he rescued a 2-2 draw with Senegal as the two teams remained joint-top of World Cup Group H.

With this draw, Japan and Senegal both sit atop Group H with four points.

Despite being only 19 years and 236 days old, and never having netted an global goal before, it was KAS Eupen right-back Moussa Wague who appeared set to be the hero of the hour when he netted Senegal's second in the 71st minute of the national side's second Group H game.

Liverpool's Senegalese superstar Sadio Mane broke the deadlock in the 11th minute after some poor goalkeeping from Eiji Kawashima. Not much to read into those stats as all the players playing in this game had nothing to do with that one.

Kagawa, whose experience in the game paid dividends in their opener 2-1 win against Colombia, has lethal partners in Dortmund's Yuya Osako who netted the second and Leicester City's Shinji Okazaki.

But the statistic most of Japan will want to remember is that Honda ended a 15-international game scoring drought that began in September 2016.

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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.

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.

After the goal, Japan coach Akira Nishino immediately pointed to Honda and six minutes later the recently installed manger was clenching his fist. Senegal conceded a goal when Poland connected with a header off a free-kick.

This is a team that had to deal with the turmoil of a coaching change two months before the start of the tournament, with the high-ups at the Japanese FA deciding that Vahid Halilhodzic was not the man to take their team into the tournament.

"I don't think it [the delivery] was anything hard but he made that decision which is regrettable", he said.

"But we were more concerned about him giving positive impact on other players, especially in the first half", Nishino said. "But Senegal are a very strong team and I hope that this result will lead to more success in our next match".