Japan twice came from behind to earn a draw against Group H rivals Senegal – with both still hopeful of progressing into the knockout stages of the World Cup.
Having both won their opening fixtures, this meeting in Ekaterinburg was a chance for one nation to all-but seal their spot in the latter stages, but a 2-2 draw means they will have to wait for their final games to seek qualification from their group.
Sadio Mane and Moussa Wague had twice put Senegal ahead, only for Japan to respond on both occasions as Takashi Inui and substitute Keisuke Honda equalised.
Senegal started brightly and deservedly took the lead, albeit in fortunate circumstances, with a little over ten minutes on the clock.
A poor defensive header from Genki Haraguchi allowed Youssouf Sabaly to shoot, his tame effort only pushed against Mane by former Dundee United goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, with the ball bouncing into the empty goal.
Japan responded nine minutes before the interval as Yuto Nagatomo broke forward from left-back, with Inui on hand to bend in an equaliser as he took the ball from the defender.
Senegal restored their lead in the second half courtesy of Wague’s first international goal. The 19-year-old full-back arrived at the back post with perfect timing to thrash home a low cross and put his side back on top.
Japan introduced Honda and Shinji Okazaki from the bench as they looked to equalise for a second time. And it was the former who provided the goal, the experienced international turning home Inui’s cross after N’Diaye had failed to deal with a routine ball into the penalty area.
Neither side could secure all three points but, with Japan facing Poland and Senegal to play Colombia, both know the chance to progress remains in their own hands.