Former AC Milan midfielder, Keisuke Honda, was his side’s hero, after Japan twice came from behind to hold Senegal to a 2-2 draw at the Ekaterinburg Arena.
Sadio Mane gave the Africans an early 1-0 lead, after goalkeeper, Eiji Kashima punched a cross from 19-year-old Moussa Wague into the lurking legs of the Liverpool forward.
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But 15minutes from the break, Takashi Inui’s beautifully struck curler from inside the box had Japan level at 1-1.
Wague restored Senegal’s lead late into the second half, becoming Africa’s youngest goalscorer at the World Cup, before second half substitute, Honda ensured the spoils were shared seven minutes later when he netted from close range to equalise for the Asians.
The result means both sides are tied on four points apiece, and have also scored the same number of goals.
It was an entertaining match between the two, who were meeting for the fourth time in their history, with the Teranga Lions the favorites having remain unbeaten from their previous three encounters.
After their opening day victories, either side needed a win to guarantee qualification for the knockout phase of the competition.
Senegal started the brightest, and deservedly took the lead twice, but Japan wouldn’t gall without a fight, as they dug deep to come twice from behind to earn a valuable point.
With Colombia and Poland facing each other next, no matter what happens in that game, group H will go down the wire, as none of the sides are safely through to the round of 16.
Up next for Senegal, they take on Colombia in their final group game, while Japan do battle with Poland.