Senegal narrowly missed a glorious opportunity to become the first African country to the reach the round of 16 of the Russia 2018 World Cup by twice squandering a lead to play out a 2-2 draw with Japan.
Sadio Mane got Senegal ahead in the 11th minute, profiting from a fortunate rebound off his leg after Eiji Kawashima in goal for Japan fumbled Youssouf Sabaly curler.
Takashi Inui brilliantly levelled proceedings 11 minutes before half time with a sumptuous curler that Senegalese goalkeeper Khadim N’Diaye knew was coming but was powerless to stop.
Moussa Wague thought he had won the match for his country with his maiden international goal, blasting home from close range in the 71st minute after being sent through on goal by Mbaye Niang’s failed back-heel effort. It was a record-breaking goal, propelling the 19-year-old to become Africa’s youngest ever goal scorer in the history of the World Cup.
However, substitute Keisuke Honda restored parity for Japan six minutes after coming on, slotting in past two sprawling Senegalese defenders. Yuya Osako’s cross had evaded the hands of the onrushing NiDiaye; and Inui, whom the ball fell to, fed Honda, the ex-AC Milan attacking midfielder making no mistake from six yards out.
Senegal will rue the final result after seeing their led erased twice, and will now have to wait till Thursday when they take on Colombia to see if they reach the knockout stages.
Had Senegal won, they would have moved to six points, which guarantees qualification should Colombia and Poland play a draw in their match coming up at 7pm.
However, with four points, same as Japan, a victory for either Colombia or Poland tonight means the Teranga Lions can still be overtaken, depending on final results.