Group H left wide open after sloppy Senegal allow Japan back into game to earn vital point

JJ Bull
Keisuke Honda hit a late equaliser for Japan - FIFA

Keisuke Honda became the first Japan player to score in three World Cup finals on Sunday after his side came from 2-1 down to earn a 2-2 draw with Senegal in Yekaterinburg.

Senegal, who started the game as favourites, took an early lead when fortune shone on Sadio Mane who managed to score with his shin after Youssouf Sabaly's shot was parried by goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima before rebounding off the Liverpool forward and into the net.

Takashi Inui levelled the score when he curled the ball just inside the right post in the 34th minute, though Senegal regained their lead when Moussa Wague arrived at the back post to crash an effort into the roof of the net in the 71st minute.

It was Honda, though, who had the final word after the second-half substitute grabbed the crucial equaliser leaving it all to play for in Group H with both Senegal and Japan level on four points apiece.


Player ratings

Who stood out in that game for you? Here's our player ratings:

Japan (4-2-3-1)

Kawashima (FC Metz) 5; Nagatomo (Galatasaray) 7, Shoji (Kashima Antlers) 6, Yoshida (Southampton) 6, H.Sakai (Marseille) 6; Shibasaki (Getafe) 6, Hasebe (Frankfurt) 6; Inui (Real Hispalis) 7, Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund) 5, Haraguchi (Hannover) 6; Osako (Hannover) 6

Subs: Okazaki (Leicester) 7, Honda (Pachuca) 7, Usami (Dusseldorf) 6

Senegal (4-3-3 / 4-1-4-1)

KH. Ndiaye (Horoya AC) 5; Sabaly (Bordeaux) 7, Sane (Schalke) 6, Koulibaly (Napoli) 6, Wague (Eupen) 6; Gueye (Everton) 6, A. Ndiaye (Wolves) 6, B. Ndiaye (Stoke) 6; Mane (Liverpool) 7, Sarr (Rennes) 8, Niang (Torino) 6

Subs: Diouf (Stoke) 6, N'Doye (Birmingham) 6, Kouyate (West Ham) 5



Up next

It's Poland vs Colombia! Follow all the action in our liveblog here.



Key stats



Japan's equalising goal




Didier Drogba's opinion

I think Japan was the best team. They played well, made more passes, more dangerous, more attacking. They conceded the second goal and it was no problem, they kept pushing.



An entertaining game that keeps Group H very much alive. Poor defending and a lack of quality in the final third let both teams down but they are very much in contention for a place in the knock-out rounds. 


90 mins+2 - Japan 2 Senegal 2

Japan attack the final third but can't create anything, Senegal try to attack but the pass is forward is poor, Japan try to get forward but turnover possession and then Senegal win a free-kick in Japan's half. They'll hit this into the area. 

It's chipped in... Japan clear.


90 mins - Japan 2 Senegal 2

There have been loads of really annoying little fouls today. Sabaly is booked for tripping up a runner just as Japan look like they might have a decent chance to counter-attack. Too many players are going down too easily in the middle of the pitch in a lot of these World Cup games. 


88 mins - Japan 2 Senegal 2

Senegal seem to have run out of ideas now. Japan have a little more about them as the match draws towards a close, with Senegal defending deep.

They're on a counter-attack now though... and Japan get back into their defensive shape. 


85 mins - Japan 2 Senegal 2

Another change for Senegal. Niang is limping and leaves the pitch to be replaced by Diouf.


83 mins - Japan 2 Senegal 2

Credit: AFP

Either team could win this now. I realise that's a cliche but Senegal look good when they go forward, Japan look good when they go forward, both teams have players who look a little tired and a defence liable to a mistake. 


81 mins - Japan 2 Senegal 2

Ndoye comes on for Badou Ndiaye. 




He came on as a substitute for Kagawa but this goal is the result of awful goalkeeping. The goalie throws himself at a cross, completely misses it and then misses the next ball into the box with a desperate dive. Honda slots into an empty net.


77 mins - Japan 1 Senegal 2

Japan have picked up the pace  and have Senegal defending now. And the goalkeeper's missed a cross! Japan should score!


75 mins - Japan 1 Senegal 2

BIG CHANCE FOR JAPAN! The ball lands at the feet of Osaka inside 10 yards but his shot is blocked. It hits Sane on the arm but there's nothing he can do about it.

Okazaki comes on for Japan.


74 mins - Japan 1 Senegal 2

How will Japan react? They've won a corner after some poor communication in the box between Koulibaly and Ndiaye in goal.




That's his first international goal! It's really well created by Sabaly on the left, with his little bit of skill allowing him space to cross. Niang drags it behind himself and Wague is overlapping on the right. He absolutely smashes the ball high into the goal. Brilliant finish.


70 mins - Japan 1 Senegal 1

The free-kick is dreadful. It's one of the training ground, the ball is passed low towards the box but the Japanese defenders read it and just step up to clear. Chance gone. 

Senegal still have possession near the Japanese box though... or did until Kouyate hits one of the worst passes of the tournament and accidentally sends it 70 yards back towards his goalkeeper.


68 mins - Japan 1 Senegal 1

Sarr nps past his man - he's so fast - and Nagatomo decides the best way to stop him, and only way, is to drag him to the floor. Yellow card for the Japanese left-back and a free-kick on the edge of the area. 


66 mins - Japan 1 Senegal 1

Japan look much better now. They're finding space in behind the Senegal defence and OSAKO IS IN! He shoots from inside the penalty area and bends it towards the far post - the keeper is beaten but the ball hits the bar!



64 mins - Japan 1 Senegal 1

Ooooh Senegal might have had a penalty there! The defender is wrong footed and brings down his man, Senegal break up the other end quickly and Sakai keeps the ball alive... Japan have men in space! But Osako's cross is awful and chipped into the stand.


62 mins - Japan 1 Senegal 1

BIG CHANCE FOR OSAKO! That should be 2-1! The ball is pulled across the box and Osako misses from inside the six yard box. Horrible miss! He doesn't even connect with the ball.

japan miss



60 mins - Japan 1 Senegal 1

Credit: AFP

 Niang is booked for catching another Japanese player in the face. Seems harsh but he did catch him.


58 mins - Japan 1 Senegal 1

Japan's captain has taken a whack to the face from Niang while he took that shot and after bleeding out of his nose for a while is ready to come back on the pitch. 

Mexican waves are going round the stadium, just in case if you were wondering how riveting the game was on the pitch. Both teams largely cancelling each other out, neither look like they want to commit too many to attack.


55 mins - Japan 1 Senegal 1

I'm enjoying the music from the crowd. Lots of nice drum beats going on. On the pitch, Senegal are creating chances and Niang has a shot from 20 yards saved low by the goalkeeper.



53 mins - Japan 1 Senegal 1

Senegal pass around the final third but Ndiaye's effort from 20 yards is lifted over the bar. The game is fairly balanced at the moment and has 'draw' written all over it.


51 mins - Japan 1 Senegal 1

That's a defence chance for Japan! Senegal's defenders give Japan far too much space in the box and Osako has a free header 12 yards out! He doesn't get enough power on the header but really that was a much bigger chance than the crowd seem to have realised. 



49 mins - Japan 1 Senegal 1

Senegal corner is well defended by Japan, with everyone in the box. Senegal can start again thanks to their being no advanced Japanese players to help with a counter-attack... but Mane loses out and Japan get men forward quickly.


47 mins - Japan 1 Senegal 1

I think Japan have changed their shape slightly to more of either a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2, with the left winger pushing up more and Kagawa in a more advanced starting position. Senegal are on the attack early in the half though and are moving the ball well.



We're back for the second half. Senegal will get this one started. 


Ndiaye doing a man marking job on Kagawa

You might be wondering why Shinji Kagawa isn't playing today but guess what - he is! Phil Neville has used his analysis skills to show a few examples of Senegal's number 13 closing Kagawa down immediately whenever Japan pass into their number 10. 



The key stats

And this graphic below shows the difference in the passing styles. Japan pass patiently without really causing problems and their one direct ball led to the goal. Senegal are much more direct, taking advantage of their superiority when running. They're so much faster man for man across the pitch.




Entertaining half so far. Two teams pretty well matched though Senegal do seem to have a little more about them. 


45 mins - Japan 1 Senegal 1

About six Senegal players are offside from the free-kick. 


44 mins - Japan 1 Senegal 1

Sabaly gets high up the pitch again - he's the left-back! - and wins Senegal a corner. Ndiaye takes it but his low cross is easily dealt with the by the Japan defence.

Senegal win a free-kick about 30 yards out and can cross this into the box. 


42 mins - Japan 1 Senegal 1

Credit: AP



40 mins - Japan 1 Senegal 1

Great save by Kawashima! Niang is played in behind the defence but the goalie blocks well and Japan take the ball up the other end. 

Haraguchi moves onto his left foot from wide right and tries a shot but blasts it high over the bar.


38 mins - Japan 1 Senegal 1

Japan have the momentum after that goal but don't take advantage and now Senegal get the ball up the pitch.

Hasebe gets back to cover the full-back and wins his team a goal kick.



Japan are back in it!

It's Inui with a fantastic finish low into the bottom corner. But this goal has again come from Japan targeting that left hand side! A lond diagonal pass over the top catches out Wague, Nagatomo nips in and Inui steps in to collect the ball and slots it in the back of the net. Great finish.



33 mins - Japan 0 Senegal 1

Aliou Cisse is giving Gueye some instructions. I expect that might either be that Gueye drops to help out Wague at right-back or tells one of his teammates to.


31 mins - Japan 0 Senegal 1

Senegal sitting in their 4-3-3 shape, waiting for Japan to come forwards and closing them down in the defensive third. 


29 mins - Japan 0 Senegal 1

Japan still probing the left wing, targeting the Senegal right-back but Senegal are equal to anything sent their way.


27 mins - Japan 0 Senegal 1

Mane controls on his chest, his second touch flicks it around the defender and his third takes him past the defender inside the box. Brilliant close control and he's won a corner.

Niang gets ready to cross... and A. Ndiaye is too handsy with the defender and gives away a free-kick.


25 mins - Japan 0 Senegal 1

Senegal defending really well - Japan just don't seem to have much to offer in the final third and Senegal are transitioning from defence to attack so quickly you'd really think they'll get another goal at some point soon. 

Some of the pass-and-move play from Senegal just now is excellent. Japan have won possession in their own half and are attacking down the left wing again. That seems to be their target. 


23 mins - Japan 0 Senegal 1

Senegal turn that Japan free-kick into an attack on their own and fly up the pitch at high speed! Sarr tries an acrobatic shot inside the area but the goalkeeper is equal to it. Senegal are winning every battle on the pitch here.


21 mins - Japan 0 Senegal 1

Japan take a free-kick from wide left, Senegal win the header and then a long ball is played to the left flank for Mane to chase. Man, he is fast. He can't quite keep the ball alive though, Japan win possession and then earn themselves a free-kick wide right. Take two.


19 mins - Japan 0 Senegal 1


That's Mane scoring thanks to the goalkeeper's error. Japan have most of the ball at the moment, Senegal just waiting to counter. 


17 mins - Japan 0 Senegal 1

Japan have found space in the Senegal half! It's a quick move, the ball is wide left, moved inside and Inui tries a rocket shot from 25 yards but hits his own player.



15 mins - Japan 0 Senegal 1

Japan are shaking early on. Senegal are so quick out wide and Nagatomo is struggling to deal with Sarr in particular! He is on the ball on the right once again and tries a snap shot from a narrow angle on the volley! The goalkeeper catches this one.



Great move by Senegal! They take the lead! And it's Sadio Mane who's scored.

Sabaly tries a shot from the left, bends it towards the far post and the goalkeeper makes a total mess of his attempted save, punching the ball off Mane and the rebound hitting the back of the net. Really poor from Japan but Senegal have started really well.


12 mins - Japan 0 Senegal 0

Sarr takes on his man for pace and wins easily, sprinting away down the right wing. Wague swings a cross in and Senegal have men over here!


10 mins - Japan 0 Senegal 0

Japan trying to build from the back but they don't seem to know what to do with the ball when they get into midfield. Senegal aren't leaving any holes open for passes to be played into.


8 mins - Japan 0 Senegal 0

Sabaly gets forward and dribbles into the box wide left. His cross doesn't trouble anyone but that's another warning shot for Japan who are clearly worried about the pace of Senegal when they get going on quick attacks.


6 mins - Japan 0 Senegal 0

Another Senegal corner but Sabaly's effort from 30 yards out is struck way over the bar.

Senegal look the more menacing of the two teams early on.


4 mins - Japan 0 Senegal 0

Senegal win a corner, Niang takes it and puts a lot of pace on the delivery! Japan survive round one and head away round two and now Japan can break. Inui waits for contact to come and then falls to the ground to win a free-kick when it does.


2 mins - Japan 0 Senegal 0

There's quite a bit of music going on in the crowd, who've brought a selection of instruments with them. Senegal are on the attack early on.




Here we go! Japan get us started.


All three pundits fancy Senegal

And here come the players! It's national anthem time.


Senegal improvements

Tactically they seem really well drilled and are disciplined in their defensive shapes too. Drogba has just pointed out the solid 4-4-2 shape they had against Poland and the way every player knew his role:

senegal team

The key is that the lines don't always stay straight:

senegal shape



Didier Drogba on African teams

Should African teams have done better since 1990?

"We could have. For example Ghana in 2010 were *this* close but I want to believe it's a matter of time. It took Ferance how many years to win the World Cup. England won it then a long time... one day! One day we'll have an African team who will not only go to the semis but will win it."


Records in the World Cup

World Cup record: Japan
World Cup record: Senegal



I love this

This is Senegal training in the stadium (I think yesterday).



Brand new BBC panel

The BBC provided coverage for England's excellent 6-1 win over Panama earlier but now they've had a little turnaround and there's a brand new presenter team for this afternoon's game. Mark Chapman is subbed in for Gary Lineker.


There are some fantastic outfits in the stadium

Credit: AP

I really hope this guy has filled these things with something delicious. Margaritas all round!




Really like this



Pictures from the World Cup

Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players

Here's a lovely gallery of photos for you to enjoy from the World Cup.


Inside the dressing rooms

Credit: FIFA
Credit: FIFA



Who's going to win?

Another tough game to call (have any been easy this World Cup?!) but I think Senegal should have the class and quality to win this one. 


Starting lineups


Kawashima, Shoji, Nagatomo, Shibasaki, Haraguchi, Kagawa, Inui, Osako, Hasebe, Sakai, Yoshida


KH. Ndiaye; Kouslibaly, Gueye, Sane, Mane, Sabaly, A. Ndiaye, P.A Ndiaye, Ismaila, Niang, Wague


Where's the game today?

Well that would be the [checks for spelling] Ekaterinburg Stadium, of course:

World Cup 2018 stadium: Ekaterinburg Arena

It's particularly interesting because one of the stands it's actually outside the building! 

Ekaterinburg Arena: The crazy Russia World Cup 2018 stadium where you pay to sit outside to watch the football



Good afternoon!

Welcome to our liveblog for what could be an enormous, glorious day for one of Japan or Senegal, depending on who wins. Whoever gets three points today is basically through to the knock-out stages of the World Cup and that is very exciting. 

Japan started well against Colombia - very well - SO well in fact, that they had a penalty and their opponent reduced to 10 men within the opening five minutes. The man advantage certainly helped them in that win over a James Rodriguez-less Colombia but that isn't to say Japan weren't capable of beating them with the teams matched numerically.

There are some decent players in that team - Shinji Kagawa was excellent, as was Takashi Inui - but they have a tough game ahead - Senegal put on a real team performance in their win over Poland. 

Japan's manager has a strategy though:

"In the last few days I told my players to grow 5cm and put on 5kg. They couldn’t do it. So instead we will have to try to win by using the ball well."

Senegal will be hoping for more of the same after their two goal win over a disappointing Poland and look like they could be the only African team to escape the group stage (assuming they actually do of course).

There are some hugely talented players in the Senegal side, with the star being Sadio Mane of Liverpool. Kalidou Koulibaly is a superb defender and in addition to pace out wide, Senegal look organised and well drilled. They're a real threat and could do pretty well in this tournament.

Team news should be with us soon, at which point we might be able to tell a little bit more about this game will go but expect both teams to start cautiously until they figure each other out. Senegal vs Poland was really boring in the first half because they both played the same team shape - there's a danger that happens here too.

Stay with us for all the build-up and live coverage of the game!