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Sports News of Sunday, 24 June 2018

Source: Ghanasportsonline.com

Senegal and Japan play out dramatic stalemate in enthralling encounter

Senegal’s quest to become the first African country to progress to the knockout stages would further be delayed after playing out a 2-2 draw with Japan.

A good start from Senegal saw them threatening the goal area of Japan with an early attempt. Senegal left-back Youssouf Sabaly made an incredible run on the line but his cross will be calmly saved by Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.

Senegal took the lead when Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima punched Youssouf Sabaly’s ball onto the knee of Sadio Mane to gift the African’s a goal after just 11minutes.

Makoto Hasebe’s strike was blocked by Shinji Kagawa in the Senegalese box as the ball looked to be heading straight into the net as Japan made efforts to get an immediate equalizer.

Japan however came out the better side as they multiplied in numbers in attack to keep the pressure on Senegal.

Takashi Inui pulled parity for Japan in the 34th minute with an excellent finish after curling past Senegal goalkeeper Khadim N’Diaye following a superb work down the left by Yuto Nagatomo who beat two Senegalese defenders and found Inui in the box.

Japan came out stronger after the equalizer and kept the Senegalese goal area boiling.

Goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima denied Senegal from getting a second when he saved M’Baye Niang ball in the 39th minute to keep his side in the game.

Yuya Osako of Japan made the first attempt in the second half but his header couldn’t carry enough weight to beat Senegal goalkeeper Khadim N’Diaye. Badou Ndiaye on the other end blasted a shot over the bar after being set up by Sadio Mane as both sides kept pushing for a second.

Senegal striker M’Baye Niang who had been busy all day would again be denied by Japan goalkeeper Kawashima when the latter comfortably saved the former’s well-struck ball from the edge of the box.

Niang went into the referee’s books after striking his arms on the face of Japan defender Gen Shoji.

Yuya Osako let Senegal off the hook when he bumped his feet onto the turf failing to get a simple touch on Makoto Hasebe’s cross as the Asians began to open the Africans up.

Takashi Inui was close to get his second on the day in the 64th minute when his excellent looping ball came off the upright after a quick break.

Senegal Coach Aliu Cisse brought on Cheikhou Kouyaté for Alfred N’Diaye who had struggled to match-up the Japanese in midfield.

Moussa Wagué got Senegal back into the lead in the 71st minute when he found his way at the back post to meet Youssouf Sabaly’s cross to slot it into the roof of the net.

Substitute Keisuke Honda leveled it up for Japan by scoring a vital equalizer in the 77th minute after receiving a pass from Yuto Nagatomo who capitalized on Khadim N’Diaye’s failure to punch a cross away from his goal.

M’Baye Niang however limped off and was replaced by Mame Biram Diouf with just 5 minutes to play.

Takashi Usami also got his first taste of the World Cup when he came on to replace Japan’s first goal scorer Takashi Inui.

The draw however looked a fair results for both teams who played out an enthralling game.

The two sides will need a good result in their final round of matches to progress to the next round of the competition.