As it happened: 2018 World Cup - Japan 2 Senegal 2

By Joseph Kizza

The joint leaders of Group H remain at the top after sharing the loot

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2018 WORLD CUP - FOCUS ON AFRICA

Live reporting by Joseph Kizza

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@joekizza

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7:58pm     Goodbye!

With that, I draw the curtains over today's Focus on Africa text commentary.

We meet again for Group A's Saudi Arabia v Egypt at 6pm Ugandan time and later Group B's Spain v Morocco at 9pm.

Cheers!

 

 

 

7:54pm     FULL TIME - Japan 2  Senegal 2

Group H is still open.

But Japan and Senegal remain with the edge. Poland and Colombia have not picked a point yet and their meeting later today at the Kazan Arena will play a vital role in this group's dimension.

Japan and Senegal will be hoping for a draw in that encounter, as that will keep them in pole position to progress to the last 16.

The final group matches will be played simultaneously - for obvious reasons.  No shenanigans tolerated.

 

 

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    FULL TIME - Japan 2  Senegal  2


And the embers to an entertaining are extinguished by the referee's final whistle. Japan twice went down, and Japan twice picked themselves up against a resolute Senegal side.

The two sides share the loot.

What a game!

 

 

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  90min (+3)     YELLOWCARD - Hasebe (Japan)


Captain Makoto Hasebe leaves nothing to chance in these dying seconds as he books himself a place in the referee's offenders.

Final minute of action.

Senegal sweep in the freekick into the Japan box. It is crowded as a Senegal bicycle effort is skied. That should be the last piece of action here.

Japan 2  Senegal  2

 

 

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  90min     FOUR MINUTES OF ADDED TIME


We will have a minimum of four minutes of added time as Senegal's Cheikh Ndoye is yellow-carded for an offence.

Japan 2  Senegal 2

 

 

 

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  89min     YELLOW CARD - Sabaly (Senegal)


It is desperate times now for Senegal as Youssouf Sabaly is booked for a foul on an opponent.

 

 

82min     Japan 2  Senegal 2

We are within the final ten minutes of this four-goal thriller.

Is a winning goal up next?

It could be imminent.

Both sides are pushing for one. If it ends like this, the two sides will remain joint leaders at four points each as they await the outcome of the other group game between Poland and Colombia later this evening.

 

 

 

 

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  78min     GOAL! - Japan


That man is dangerous! Told you, Senegal, to keep an eye on him. Keisuke Honda.

The substitute bangs in the equaliser from close range.

Honda is the first Japanese to score at three World Cup finals - and he is the oldest scorer at the competition.

What an enjoyable match!

Japan  2  Senegal  2

 

 

 

 

 

74min     SUBSTITUTION - Japan

The Samurai Blue make more reforms, throwing on the fresh pair of legs in the form of Shinji Okazaki.

They have 16 minutes to find the leveller. Senegal may well have a say in this. What a clash!

Japan 1  Senegal 2

 

 

72min     SUBSTITUTION - Japan

Japan make their first change of the game. Shinji Kagawa is off and on comes a man Senegal should keep their eyes closely on: Keisuke Honda.

Honda has been directly involved in six of Japan's last eight World Cup goals, scoring three and assisting as many.

But the CF Pachuca player has not scored in his last 15 international games, a streak going back to September 2016.

He has 12 goals in 26 World Cup qualifiers, including seven on the road to Russia, and is his country’s leading World Cup goalscorer, with three strikes to his name.

 

 

 

 

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  71min     GOAL! - Senegal


Senegal regain their lead through youngster Moussa Wague.

 
Credit to Youssouf Sabaly, whose nifty work on the ball in the face of opposition in the box ends with him feeding Wague across the goal mouth. And the 19-year-old makes no mistake, smashing in his first senior goal.

It is a beauty of a team goal. Could watch it over and over again.

Japan 1  Senegal 2

 

 

 

 

65min     SUBSITUTION - Senegal

Senegal make the first change of the game.

 

 

 

64min     CLOSE! - Japan

Again, Senegal live another day!

Japan are looking ever more menancing at the moment and their attacking force is giving the Senegalese back a hell of a time.

A nifty tap with the heel finds Takashi Inui, who curls into the right-hand corner. It is going in, the Japanese crowd are on their feet, but no! The ball strikes off the bar. Uuuhs and Aahs across the stadium.

Clearly, the Samurai Blue are the better side in this half. Senegal surviving by the thread.

Japan  1  Senegal 1

 

 

 

61min     CLOSE! - Japan

How did that fail to go in?

What a miss!

Yuya Osako fails to connect from a well measured sweep across the mouth of the Senegal goal.

Japan 1  Senegal 1

 

 

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59min     YELLOW CARD - Mbaye (Senegal)


Senegal's Mbaye Niang is the first man to go into referee Rocchi Gianluca's book.

 

 

55min     Hasebe hurt

Japan's veteran captain Makoto Hasebe is down, with blood gushing out of his nose. He has captained the Asian side on three consecutive World Cup finals.

He gets back in action, but his nose is still bloodied. He will need closer monitoring to arrest that nose bleeding.

Japan 1  Senegal 1

 

 

52min     Japan 1  Senegal 1

By the way, if you are a Senegal and Africa fan, this may please you . . .

The Lions of Teranga have never lost a game when Sadio Mane has scored.

Optimism!

 

 

48min     Japan confident

There is an air of confidence with the way the Samurai Blue are carrying the ball now. Senegal started the first half the brighter side, but tables have turned in these early moments of the second half.

Hiroki Sakai goes for  goal once fed in but he is denied. Almost immediately after on the other end of the pitch, Mbaye is allowed to creep into the Japan box but his effort is blocked by an advancing Eiji Kawashima.

Japan 1  Senegal 1

 

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     KICKOFF! - Second half


We are back for another 45 minutes.

Japan have never beaten Senegal in any match. Can they do so on the biggest stage of football?

 

 

6:56pm     History beckons for Japan?

Well, Japan have not won consecutive games at a World Cup since the 2002 edition, which they co-hosted with South Korea. Back then, the Samurai Blue overcame Russia and Tunisia in their second and third group games.

Japan 1  Senegal  1

 

 

 

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    HALF TIME - Japan 1  Senegal 1


An absorbing opening 45 minutes comes to a screeching end with the duel all-square.

 

 

44min     Interesting opening half

It has been a first half of football that has been good on the eye.

As we wrap it up, Senegal get a freekick from about 35 yards out. Pape Alioune Ndiaye stands over the ball, before sweepng in the ball deliciously. Mbaye Niang, who scored the second goal against Poland, tries to engineer a goal here. He heads the aerial ball back into the box but the flag is already up. Offside.

Japan 1  Senegal 1

 

 

40min     Japan 1  Senegal  1

Five minutes to go.

You may want to know that Senegal have won three of their six matches at the World Cup. That is the best win rate of any African nation at the world's top football competition.

If the Teranga Lions win today, they will be the only third African side to win their opening two World Cup games. Cameroon and Nigeria have done it before - in 1990 and in 1998 respectively.

 

 

 

37min     Japan 1  Senegal  1

The last time Japan lost to African opposition at the World Cup was in 2014 in Brazil against Ivory Coast (2-1). They had won their only two previous encounters.

No Asian nation has won their opening two games at a World Cup. Japan know if they beat Senegal this evening, they will go into the books of history.

 

 

 

 

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  34min     GOAL! - Japan


Takashi Inui equalises beautifully to even the score here.

What a strike!

 
Yuto Nagamoto links well with a marauding Inui from a long cross floated deep into the Senegal box and the midfielder wearing shirt number 14 curls a low finish to beat an outstretched goalkeeper Abdoulaye Diallo.

That goal puts a bright smile on Japan's Princess Takamado, who is watching from the stands.

Japan 1  Senegal 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

31min     Mane down

A brief moment of worry in the Senegal camp.

Their star forward, Sadio Mane - the man with a distinctive golden strip in his hair - is down after being pulled down by Hiroki Sakai. The Liverpool FC player stays down, prompting the referee to trot back to check on him, but he is OK.

Japan 1  Senegal 0

 

 

27min     Japan 0  Senegal 1

Senegal have the edge as we approach the half-hour mark.

 

 

 

23min     Niang too much for Shibasaki

The Japanese coach joked in the buildup to this game that he had told his players to add some bit of height and weight so as to match their lankier African opposition. "That did not work," quipped 63-year-old Nishino Akira.

Well, he was right. The difference in physique is telling here.

Gaku Shibasaki is guilty of tagging at Mbaye Niang in a bid to get the ball, and the referee blows for a Senegal freekick.

Japan 0  Senegal 1

 

 

19min     Did you know?

These two sides have only previously met in friendlies, with Senegal being unbeaten. The west Africans won their last two meetings in 2001 (2-0) and in 2003 (1-0).

Senegal are meeting an Asian side in a World Cup match for the first time and are undefeated in group-stage matches at the World Cup.

Cisse Aliou's side haven't been so shaky at the back. They have conceded five times in their last nine games in all competitions. Only one of those goals was in the first half.

Japan 0  Senegal  1

 

 

15min     CLOSE! - Japan

Skipper Hasebe's rasping goal-bound shot is deflected as the Samurai Blue try to quickly come back into the game.

Japan 0  Senegal 1

 

 

 

 

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  11min     GOAL! - Senegal


Senegal draw first blood. And it is the captain, Sadio Mane, who scores.

Moussa Wague makes a good run on the right flank. He whips in a cross into the box, which is headed out poorly and finds Youssouf Sabaly. His connection is blocked by Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima but Mane is in the right place at the right time to knee the effort back into the back of the net.

Blistering start!

Japan 0  Senegal 1

 

 

 

 

 

07min     Two corners in two minutes

Senegal were adventurous - but most importantly disciplined - against Poland in their group opener on Tuesday. Can they maintain that very attitude against the Samurai Blue?

Or, can the Japenese match Senegal's work ethic and spirit on the pitch?

Idrissa Gana Gueye goes hard on Japan's captain Makoto Hasebe and the referee awards a freekick.

Japan 0  Senegal 0

 

 

04min     Two corners in two minutes

A great start for the Lions of Teranga.

They get two corners in the opening four minutes, but fail to convert them into goals.

The sound of drumbeats has lightened up the mood inside the Central Stadium.

Japan 0 Senegal 0

 

 

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   KICKOFF! - Japan 0 Senegal 0


Referee Rocchi Gianluca of Italy is the man in charge of today's game. He will be assisted by compatriots Di Liberatore Elenito and Tonoline Mauro while Al Jassim Abdulrahman of Qatar is the fourth official.

With that said, game on!

 

 


5:58pm     Akira v Aliou

Japan v Senegal (kickoff 6pm)

This is a battle of two coaches. Nishino Akira, 63, and 42-year-old Cisse Aliou of Senegal. By the way, the dreadlocked Aliou is the youngest coach at this edition.

The teams are out. The anthems are being sung.

Kickoff shortly.

 

 

 

 

 

5:43pm     Honda, Okazaki on the bench

Japan v Senegal (kickoff 6pm)

Japan won't start with their key players midfielder Keisuke Honda and striker Shinji Okazaki, who were nursing injuries.

Honda was a victim of a bruised thigh after coming on as a substitute against Colombia while Okazaki, who only played the last five minutes of the game, has not been favored over Yuya Osako, who impressed in their last game.

 

 

5:37pm     LINEUPS - Senegal

Japan v Senegal (kickoff 6pm)

Their opponents, the Lions of Teranga, have made one change to the side that beat Poland, with Pape Alioune Ndiaye replacing Mame Diouf.

The Africans go with a 4-3-3 formation.

STARTING IX: Ndiaye, Sane, Koulibaly, Sabaly, Wague, A Ndiaye, Gana, PA Ndiaye, Niang, Ismaila, Mane (C)

 

 

 

5:34pm     LINEUPS - Japan

Japan v Senegal (kickoff 6pm)

The Samurai Blue have gone with a 4-2-3-1 formation.

STARTING IX: Kawashima, Yoshida, Shoji, Sakai, Nagatomo, Hasebe (C), Shibasaki, Haraguchi, Kagawa, Inui, Osako

 

 

 

5:20pm     Two teams eyeing second win

Japan v Senegal (kickoff 6pm)

Both Senegal and Japan will be looking to secure a second consecutive group-stage victory at this edition.

In their respective opening games, Senegal beat Poland 2-1 while Japan saw off Colombia with a similar scoreline.

Senegal's goals came through Thiago Cionek's owngoal and M'Baye Niang while Grzegorz Krychowiak scored for Poland.

Meanwhile, Shinji Kagawa and Yuya Osako netted for Japan as Juan Fernando Quintero scored the only goal for ten-man Colombia.

 

 

5:17pm     Group H table before kickoff

Japan v Senegal (kickoff 6pm)

This is what Group H standings look like ahead of this evening's clash.

 

 

 

5:10pm     Ekaterinburg Arena

Japan v Senegal (kickoff: 6pm)

We are at Ekaterinburg Arena, which is also known as Central Stadium.

Hours ahead of kickoff, the weather has shown just how kind it can be. It is warm enough for some scintillating piece of football.

 

 

 

5:05pm     Group H action

Japan v Senegal (kickoff: 6pm)

Welcome to this live text commentary as we once again focus on Africa at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. In less than an hour from now, Group H joint leaders will go head-to-head, with the winner in today's game potentially securing progression to the last 16.

I will keep you updated throughout the game.