Senegal, Japan share the points in thriller

Japan striker Yuya Osako

Senegal will be more disappointed not to have won this game, having gone ahead twice through Sadio Mane and Moussa Wague, but Japan will be encouraged after coming back both times; Takashi Inui then Keisuke Honda bagging equalisers.

Japan will be looking to make a big step towards the round of sixteen when they take on fellow opening day winners Senegal in Ekaterinburg on Sunday evening.

Liverpool's Senegalese superstar Sadio Mane broke the deadlock in the 11th minute after some poor goalkeeping from Eiji Kawashima.

Japan, however, earned the draw when substitute Keisuke Honda scored in the 78th. Senegal who re-took the lead when youngster Wague pounced on a cross at the far post to ram into the roof of the Japan net.

The result leaves the two teams joint-top of Group H and both will have reason to be confident in their prospects of reaching the Round of 16, with one match left to go in the group stage.

"It was a tough match, we knew it would be", Japan coach Akira Nishino said.

The 32-year-old is also now the top-scoring Asian player in World Cup history, netting four goals in nine appearances in the competition.

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Japan and Senegal face off against each other on Sunday knowing that the victor of this match will all but ensure qualification to the next round of the World Cup.

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. "We started this game well. Hopefully he will be feeling better in his shoes, as we like to say". "We can't underestimate the Japanese team that played very well".

"Of course in the second half we wanted to win", Nishino told reporters.

Yoshida said he expected Japan's opponents to pay much closer attention to Osako in the wake of the former Kashima Antlers forward's starring role in Saransk. "We're going to try to manage this and extract the positive points to qualify for the last 16".

For the second straight match, Japan had high-profile support in the stands.

Aliou Cisse rotated his goalkeepers several times in the pre-World Cup friendlies and, originally, Abdoulaye Diallo was handed the number one jersey.

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