This is the 31st March at the FIFA World Cup 2018 holding in Moscow, Russia.
Date & Time of Match:
Japan and Senegal in the Group H at 4 p.m. BST/11 a.m. ET
___SCORE: Japan 2-2 Senegal____
90′ + 4′ Makoto Hasebe is shown a yellow card moments before the end of the match for a cynical challenge in midfield.
90′ + 4′ FULL-TIME: Japan 2-2 Senegal.
90′ + 3′ Koulibaly’s attempted overhead kick forces the referee to blow his whistle and award Japan a free-kick inside their own penalty area. Senegal were building a dangerous attack with only two minutes left, so Kawashima will be breathing sighs of relief as he boots the ball away from his goal.
90′ + 1′ Cheikh N’Doye is given a yellow card for an infringement during his aerial duel with Japan’s Maya Yoshida.
90′ Takashi Usami breaks free on a counter-attack but Sabaly takes one for the team and brings down the Japan playmaker – which earns the Senegal defender a yellow card.
89′ Keisuke Honda is taken down by Sabaly and the free-kick is taken quickly to Shibasaki who puts in a dangerous cross which is fluffed at by Sane – though the panic quickly dissipates as Khadim N’Diaye drops to his knees to make sure of the catch.
87′ Play is very disjointed now as the managers make their final switches. It is now Japan who put a hold on the action, as Takashi Usami enters the pitch in place of the fantastic Takashi Inui.
86′ Senegal make their final substitution five minutes before time, as a limping M’Baye Niang is replaced by Mame Biram Diouf in a straight attacking swap. Can another newly introduced player make his mark on proceedings?
83′ Japan haven’t won consecutive games at the World Cup since 2002, when they co-hosted the tournament with South Korea. On that occasion it was in their second and third game of the group stage (versus Russia and Tunisia).
81′ Senegal respond to the Japan equaliser with their second substitution of the match, with Cheikh N’Doye replacing Badou Ndiaye in midfield.
80′ With 10 minutes left, the result once again hangs in the balance. Japan have looked so much better in this second half, and that, coupled with a pair of attacking changes, has caused much confusion in the Senegal defence. It has been a fantastic match all around, though it seems to be getting better and better as we creep closer to its conclusion.
78′ Takashi Inui puts his name on the scoresheet once again, this time for an assist as it was his cross which found Honda at the back post for Japan’s second goal.
78′ AN IMMEDIATE IMPACT FOR KEISUKE HONDA AND IT’S NOW 2-2! A mad scramble in the penalty area ends with the substitute smashing it past Khadim N’Diaye in the Senegal goal! Osako teases in a cross which the goalkeeper comes out to deal with but he clatters into Sane and causes confusion. Inui feeds the ball in a second time and, while Shinji Okazaki is unable to get on the end of it, Keisuke Honda made sure to slot it home at the back post!
78′ Goal Keisuke Honda
78′ Assist Takashi Inui
77′ Only two African nations have ever won both of their opening two matches to a World Cup tournament – Cameroon in 1990 and Nigeria in 1998.
75′ Genki Haraguchi is taken out in Japan’s second substitution, with striker Shinji Okazaki taking his place in a forward-thinking and attacking substitution.
65′ Substitution Alfred John Momar N’Diaye Cheikhou Kouyaté
63′ Wague charges into the penalty area with the ball at his foot and clatters into a Japan defender, going to ground and immediately appealing for a penalty which is resoundingly denied by the Italian match official. A good call by the referee who has been quite good today.
61′ ALMOST A SECOND FOR JAPAN! Badou Ndiaye gives the ball away with a wayward pass very close to his penalty area but Osako is unable to get onto the cross-box pass and turn it past a scrambling Khadim N’Diaye! That is very sloppy from Senegal who are exceptionally fortunate to escape that error without punishment.
59′ M’Baye Niang is shown the match’s first yellow card for flailing his left arm and striking the face of Shoji which knocks him instantly to the floor. That is Niang’s second such challenge in the last few moments, and he is rightfully shown a card for the infringement.
46′ Senegal take the kick-off to start the second period of play! We’re all tied up in Ekaterinburg – will the final 45 minutes prove decisive?!
Japan have looked rather shaky when defending against Senegal’s counter-attack, which will prove more and more lethal as the match drags on. Aliou Cisse has a number of attacking options on the bench should he demand his side push for a winner – with Mame Biram Diouf, Keita Balde and Moussa Sow all able to contribute to the scoresheet. For Japan, it will be a case of calmness on the ball, and control of possession without allowing their opponents to successfully win the ball high up the pitch. As we head into the second period, top spot in Group H is completely up for grabs and it could be a mistake that shifts the tides one way or another.
It has been a thoroughly entertaining first half at the Ekaterinburg Arena as Japan and Senegal are level at 1-1. Despite a lack of goal-mouth opportunity, there has been a lot of action to get excited about. Sadio Mane’s opener gave Senegal a deserved lead after 12 minutes, and it looked like the African side would cruise to a victory. Japan’s equaliser came as a bit of surprise, but it was a moment of quality – first from Nagatomo, then Inui – which forced Akira Nishino’s side back into it.
45′ HALF TIME: Japan 1-1 Senegal.
45′ Kagawa gives away a cheap free-kick just outside the corner of the penalty area. The ball comes in and finds Niang completely alone in the penalty area, but the referee finally blows his whistle to indicate that the Senegal striker had drifted into an offside position.
44′ Koulibaly sends Mane forward with a high pass but a Japan defender is in perfect position to block the forward and touch the ball out for a corner. Badou Ndiaye sends it to the near post but Japan are alert to the danger and ruin what was ultimately a decent idea.
42′ Japan are holding possession, cycling the ball around in midfield partially looking for an opening, and partially to wind down the few minutes before the half-time interval. Niang puts in a defensive shift and forces Shoji into a bit of trouble on the touchline, but the Senegal forward ultimately gives his opponents a throw-in at the midfield line.
40′ Kawashima gets lucky as he rushes out of his penalty area to latch onto a Senegal pass. The goalie quickly isolates and strands himself, but Niang’s effort is sent directly towards the shot-stopper, who makes an uncomfortable but ultimately successful parry.
38′ Slightly against the run of play it has to be said, Japan capitalise on their first real effort on goal. Inui put the perfect amount of spin and curve on his effort and made sure that one chance was all he needed. This match is now finely poised – with both teams once again sharing top spot in Group H.
36′ Japan are piling on the pressure now as a cross comes in from the right-hand side. Salif Sane rises highest to clear the pressure and deny the Samurai Blue a quick second goal.
34′ Yuto Nagatomo has been dangerous on that flank on a number of occasions today – and he has finally made his pressure pay. His brilliant positioning led to Inui’s goal, and the full-back will be credited with an assist for his contribution to the equaliser.
34′ TAKASHI INUI LEVELS THE SCORE! JAPAN HAVE MADE IT 1-1! Nagatomo once again gets free on the left wing and splits two Senegal defenders before laying the ball off to Inui who has just enough time to take a touch before curling an effort into the bottom corner which Khadim N’Diaye had no chance of stopping! With 10 minutes to go before the half, the sides are once again even!
32′ Hasebe sends a suspect pass through the middle for Shibasaki who goes down under a challenge immediately after receiving the ball in front of the Senegal penalty area. The referee denies the player’s claims of a free-kick and allows the match to continue.
30′ The atmosphere in the stadium is fantastic, as the Japan support has not lost its voice despite going down a goal very early on. To their credit the Senegal fans are also in full voice, urging their side forward in search of an insurance goal before the end of the half.
28′ Japan are dominating the possession stats, but are failing to convert their ball control into any real goal-scoring chances. Senegal are happy to let their opponents set the pace of play, before winning it back and counter-attacking with amazing fluidity.
26′ Nagatomo gets in behind the Senegal left-back, but his cross is very poor and hit to the near post where a defender gets to it first to clear the potential danger. That attack is evidence of Japan’s creativity, but also their lack of quality delivery.
24′ While Japan have made it to the opposition penalty area, they have done very little to trouble Khadim N’Diaye. The Senegalese goalkeeper has not had to make a save so far today, with Sane and Kalidou Koulibaly looking very comfortable in front of their veteran shot-stopper.
22′ Japan have their first corner of the match which is taken short – but the quick set-piece fails to catch Senegal off-guard and the African side win possession and turn defence into attack with their trademark blistering counter. The ball is crossed in from the right to Sarr who attempts a half-hearted volley which forces a diving catch from Eiji Kawashima in the Japanese goal.
21′ Shibasaki takes the free-kick and puts it perfectly onto the penalty spot, but a Senegal defender rises highest and clears the danger without fuss.
20′ Takashi Inui wins a free-kick after a clumsy challenge by Ismaila Sarr. The set-piece is on the left touchline and looks a good position for an in-swinger.
18′ This will be the fourth meeting between Japan and Senegal, with the African side unbeaten in the previous three (W2 D1, all friendlies).
16′ Hasebe has a shot blocked by his own player! Yuto Nagatomo jinks his way into the penalty area before cutting it back to Kagawa who sees Hasebe free just outside the penalty area. The midfielder hits a very clean strike at goal but the effort smacks against the back of a blue shirt who is part of a crowd near the penalty spot.
14′ Very poor defending by the Japanese who gifted that goal to their opponents after a number of questionable decisions in defence. A weak attempt at a back-post clearance by Genki Haraguchi allowed Senegal to continue attacking from inside the penalty area. How will Akira Nishino’s side respond to this early adversity?
11′ SENEGAL TAKE THE LEAD THROUGH SADIO MANE! 1-0 TO SENEGAL! Wague puts a cross into the box which is not dealt with at the back post. The ball is gifted back to the African side and Youssouf Sabaly curls an effort which Eiji Kawashima saves, but only by punching the ball into the legs of Sadio Mane who turns it in past the goalkeeper! We have a breakthrough 12 minutes in!
10′ Moussa Wague puts a cross into the penalty area but there are no team-mates waiting in the penalty area. The ball is hacked away quickly but possession is returned to Salif Sane whose pass for Sadio Mane runs too far and goes out for a Japan goal-kick.
7′ Shinji Kagawa tries to get the Japanese attack going with a cross-field ball to Takashi Inui on the left-hand side, but the winger fails to control the pass and he gives Senegal back possession.
6′ Niang is once again involved as he wins a corner from the foot of Gen Shoji who was keeping a close eye on the Senegalese striker. Niang takes the out-swinging corner which is cleared out of the box by a Japanese defender before Youssouf Sabaly takes a speculative shot from distance which rises over the bar.
4′ Senegal have the first corner of the match which is taken by Niang. The delivery goes to the near post but the ball is unmet and runs through to the far touchline – causing the Japanese goalkeeper no danger.
2′ Senegal are starting very brightly, pushing very high up the pitch to win back possession. M’Baye Niang misses a back-heel flick in the penalty area and Sadio Mane is unable to get onto the rebound. Nervy opening moments for the Japanese defence!
1′ Japan take the opening kick-off and get the match in Ekaterinburg underway! It should be an exceptionally entertaining 90 minutes of Group H action!
The two teams are being led out of the tunnel and onto the sun-soaked pitch by today’s match officials. The national anthems are currently being played – which means kick-off should follow shortly!
Aliou Cisse changes formation slightly from the 4-4-2 that beat Poland 2-1 to a 4-1-4-1 with Idrissa Gueye occupying the all-important space in front of the defence and behind the more advanced midfield four. The manager also makes one personnel change, as Badou Ndiaye takes up a position in midfield, forcing striker Mame Biram Diouf to the substitute’s bench.
Japan manager Akira Nishino keeps the same starting XI and formation that saw the Blue Samurai beat 10-man Colombia. The 4-2-3-1 provided organisation and stability for the Japanese, while allowing star player Shinji Kagawa to express himself in front of goal. He will no doubt be the key to unlocking the resolute Senegalese defence.
Senegal substitutes: Cheikh N’Doye, Moussa Konate, Cheikhou Kouyate, Abdoulaye Diallo, Alfred Gomis, Kara Mbodji, Lamine Gassama, Adama Mbengue, Mama Biram Diouf, Moussa Sow, Diafra Sakho, Keita Balde.
Senegal Starting XI (4-1-4-1): Khadim N’Diaye; Moussa Wague, Kalidou Koulibaly, Salif Sane, Youssouf Sabaly; Idrissa Gueye; Ismaila Sarr, Alfred N’Diaye, Badou Ndiaye, Sadio Mane; M’Baye Niang.
Japan substitutes: Keisuke Honda, Hotaru Yamaguchi, Shinji Okazaki, Masaaki Higashiguchi, Kosuke Nakamura, Naomichi Ueda, Wataru Endo, Tomoaki Makino, Gotoku Sakai, Takashi Usami, Ryota Oshima, Yoshinori Muto.
Japan Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Eiji Kawashima; Hiroki Sakai, Maya Yoshida, Gen Shoji, Yuto Nagatomo; Gaku Shibasaki, Makoto Hasebe; Genki Haraguchi, Shinji Kagawa, Takashi Inui; Yuya Osako.
With 15 minutes before kick-off, it’s about time we took a look at how the two sides will be lining up! Let’s start with Japan!
Senegal made sure to keep the pace in their first World Cup finals action since a defeat to Turkey in the quarter-finals stage of their debut tournament in 2002. The Lions of Teranga impressed in their 2-1 defeat of Poland, forcing numerous turnovers and capitalising on frequent changes of possession – the likes of which led to Mbaye Niang’s lead-doubling strike an hour into the match.
A Shinji Kagawa penalty and a Yuya Osako goal 17 minutes from time rendered Juan Quintero’s nifty free-kick a spectacular consolation. The victory gave the Samurai Blue a temporary lead atop the tournament’s final foursome.
Today’s match from the Ekaterinburg Arena sees a meeting between two sides who managed maximum points from their opening round of fixtures. A 2-1 victory for Japan over Colombia was seen as a bit of a shock; though Carlos Sanchez’s early red card certainly altered the course of events.
Hello and welcome to our LIVE commentary of the Group H fixture between Japan and Senegal at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.