Six minutes later, it was a done deal.
Keisuke Honda made history on Sunday as he came off the bench to net a 78th-minute equaliser and earn Japan a 2-2 draw against Senegal in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Senegal have never been beaten by Japan in the teams’ three meetings and are one of three African countries to reach the World Cup quarterfinals – a feat that has eluded Japan in their five tries. He has 37 worldwide goals in his career.
Senegal had the better of the start of the second period with the hulking Mbaye Niang wreaking havoc with a couple of shots but also by flooring any defenders who came near him, drawing blood from one. “Honda was moved from center to the wide side and he was very versatile at adapting to that position”.
Two penalties from Kane and two goals from John Stones, plus an impressive strike from Jesse Lingard, gave England an unassailable 5-0 lead at half-time.
“It is very important to neutralise Mane but we did a pretty good job in dulling his threat, but what we were more anxious about was the impact he has on other Senegal players”. “It was really just the foot on the ball”.
Senegal took the lead in the 11th minute when Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima punched a cross into Mane’s leg and the ball bounced back over the line and in, before Inui’s curled finish on 34 minutes meant the sides went in level at the break.
He immediately hauled off the ineffectual Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa and replaced him with 32-year-old Keisuke Honda in a like-for-like change. A win against Senegal on Sunday will virtually assure them progress. Japan had only two.
“We were not very good frankly, and Japan were the better team, I have to admit that”. We have studied them, it will be a tough match.
However, Aliou Cisse will be frustrated his players failed to build on Mane’s opener after Kawashima’s howler.
“Well our locker room after the match, compared to those in the Premier League, is much cleaner”, he said.
“It’s important to have that point and we have a decisive game coming up”.
Japan and Senegal played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in Group H which leaves both with work to do in their final matches to qualify for the knockout stage.
Colombia capitulated early on against Japan, Senegal’s defence, led by Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly, looked ragged against the same opposition and Japan have often invited pressure before being forced to hit back. Even their fans were spotted cleaning their mess after the match.