Keisuke Honda Rescues Draw for Japan to Leave Group H Wide Open

Keisuke Honda
YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE 24: Keisuke Honda of Japan scores his team's second goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group H match between Japan and Senegal at Ekaterinburg Arena on June 24, 2018 in Yekaterinburg, Russia. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Keisuke Honda rescued a draw for Japan in their Group H encounter with Senegal. The former AC Milan midfielder had only been on the pitch for a few minutes when he equalised after Moussa Wague’s goal. Senegal had initially taken the lead through Sadio Mane but were pegged back by Takashi Inui’s goal.

Keisuke Honda Rescues Draw for Japan

Cagey Opening

Senegal broke the deadlock after just 11 minutes in comical fashion. A poor defensive header from Genki Haraguchi fell to Youssouf Sabaly. His cross was met by an attempted punch from Eiji Kawashima, however, he could only punch into the legs of Sadio Mane, and the Liverpool winger wheeled away in celebration.

Senegal controlled the game from their goal and onwards, so Japan’s equaliser came completely against the run of play. A long ball out to Yuto Nagatomo was brilliantly brought down, he then poked the ball to Takashi Inui and the Eibar midfielder curled in an excellent finish beyond Khadim N’Diaye.

Second Half Goal-fest

Japan came into their stride mid-way through the second half. They strung together numerous fluid moves, one of which almost resulted in them taking the lead. Goalscorer Inui was played in by a neat backheel, but his effort bounced off the top of the crossbar, much to the relief of Senegal.

However, it was the African side that got the next goal, regaining their advantage. Mane’s dinked pass was well controlled by Sabaly, his cross was almost met by M’Baye Niang’s backheel, but instead, it was thundered in at the far post by Moussa Wague.

Within seven minutes, though, Japan were level once again. Yuya Osako’s floated cross was missed by goalkeeper N’Diaye and Inui’s cut-back was slammed home by Japan’s record World Cup goal-scorer, Keisuke Honda.

Final Games

The draw leaves both of these teams on four points following their respective 2-1 wins in their opening games. It leaves the group wide open ahead of Poland’s fixture with Colombia tonight. The loser of that game will be knocked out, while the winner will still have a chance of qualification in the final round of games. A draw leaves both with outside chances of going through to the last 16.

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