Maya Yoshida and Japan’s hopes of reaching the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup remain after Samurai Blue battled to a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Sadio Mane’s Senegal on Sunday.
Southampton’s Yoshida played the full 90 minutes once again as Japan came from behind twice to earn a valuable point.
Ex-Saints winger Mane - now of Liverpool, of course - opened the scoring on 11 minutes through a fortunate ricochet when Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima parried the ball straight into the onrushing forward’s knee.
Japan then equalised through a lovely goal from Takashi Inui, before teenager Moussa Wague hit back to give Senegal a 2-1 lead and becoming the youngest African goalscorer at a World Cup.
However, Japan’s talismanic midfielder Kaisuke Honda came off the bench to equalise with little over 10 minutes remaining with a composed finish.
Japan play Jan Bednarek’s Poland in the final game and a win would see them through to the knockout stages.
However, Southampton defender Bednarek’s World Cup adventure with the Polish national team has come to an end after suffering a 3-0 defeat to Colombia.
With Japan and Senegal playing to that aforementioned 2-2 draw earlier in the day, Bednarek’s Poland had the chance to keep their hopes alive to progress from Group H.
However, they encountered an emboldened Colombia side who were left reeling following their surprise 2-1 defeat to Japan last time out.