YEKATERINBURG, Russia (Reuters) – Midfielder Keisuke Honda came off the bench to salvage a 2-2 draw for Japan against Senegal, as both teams were locked at the top of Group H following an entertaining encounter on Sunday.
Soccer Football – World Cup – Group H – Japan vs Senegal – Ekaterinburg Arena, Yekaterinburg, Russia – June 24, 2018 Japan’s Keisuke Honda applauds their fans after the match REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
Veteran Honda, 32, who became the first Japanese player to score in three different World Cups, replaced Shinji Kagawa in the second half with his team down 2-1 and fired the equaliser in 12 minutes from time after an error by Senegal goalkeeper Khadim N’Diaye.
Senegal thought they had claimed all three points as Moussa Wague drilled the ball into the top of the net in the 71st minute to make it 2-1, after Sadio Mane’s fortuitous first-half opener was cancelled out by Takashi Inui’s curling shot. But Honda ensured things ended level and deservedly so.
The result leaves both teams, who beat Colombia and Poland respectively in their opening matches, on four points from two games and within reach of a spot in the last 16.
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“They were avoidable goals, that’s clear,” Senegal coach Aliou Cisse said in a blunt assessment of his defence. “The best team was Japan, we have to admit that.”
“We didn’t play a great game but we didn’t lose……