Maya Yoshida and Japan’s World Cup hopes of reaching the last 16 received another boost after a 2-2 draw with Senegal on Sunday in Ekaterinburg.
Saints’ Yoshida featured for the full 90 minutes for the second consecutive time for his country at the finals in Russia as the Samurai Blue impressed once again in a battling performance.
Akira Nishino’s team caught the eye in their opening victory over Colombia and deservedly took a share of the spoils here to remain level on points with the Teranga Lions at the top of Group H.
The Japanese twice went behind to strikes from Sadio Mane on 11 minutes – the forward fortuitously turning into the net after a goalkeeping error – and teenager Moussa Wagué only to hit back through Takashi Inui’s cool finish and late substitute Keisuke Honda 12 minutes from time in an entertaining contest.
The draw however did little to clear up the qualifying picture in what looks to be one of the tournament’s tightest and keenly contested groups.
Both sides could still miss out on the knockout stages should Jan Bednarek’s Poland and Colombia draw this evening in Kazan and beat Japan and Senegal in the final fixture next Thursday.