Japan clashed with Senegal in a pivotal encounter of Group H of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia. The final scoreline read as 2-2 on Sunday.
Both teams were coming off a win in their opening game at the tournament. With Poland and Colombia in their group, this match-up held a significant importance in terms of the points table.
The Asian side exhibited a spirited display in their win over Colombia, while the African nation had luck in their favour to be victorious against Poland.
The game started off at a normal pace, with both teams feeling each other out. Since the style of play is quite similar, they waited for the right time to accelerate their approach towards the game. But, the shackles were off within five minutes of the first-half and both sides were attacking with intent.
Breakthrough of the game came in the 11th minute when Sadio Mane latched onto a loose ball in the Japanese box and slotted it home. He scored his first FIFA World Cup goal and took the lead for his side. Senegal’s strategy had worked out, and now they could play the patient game.
Meanwhile, Japan wasn’t letting them sit idly by. They knew the importance of this game and turned up the intensity by several notches to manifest some pressure of their own. Winger Takashi Inui was the biggest threat from Japan to Senegal. The 30-year-old was running up and down the field to make something happen and get his side back on level terms.
He did so successfully in the 31st minute of the game. Left-back Yuto Nagatomo found some space in the final third and laid the ball to Inui. He didn’t fluff his lines but scored the important equaliser. A deserved goal for the Samurai Blue who wasn’t going to take the situation they are in for granted. The first-half ended with no further action, and all left to play for in the last 45 minutes.
Senegal once again started the half stronger than their opponents and was once again dominating the exchanges.
The second half started with the hope of a result, but it all ended up in a draw because both teams have planted one each goal to equalise the pressure. At the 71st minute of the game, Moussa Wague scored a goal which was assisted by M.Niag, the lions of Terang roared once again. At this point of time, Senegal was in the safer position but just after 7 minutes their time of celebration was minimised by Keisuke Honda, he stunned the world with his skills which confused the goalkeeper, and his antics went into the books. What a struggle it has been for both the teams.