Monday, August 20, 2018

Japan 1 Mali 1: Late Nakajima strike earns a draw

SoccerNews in World Cup 23 Mar 2018

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Shoya Nakajima struck in stoppage time to salvage a 1-1 draw for Japan in their opening World Cup warm-up friendly against Mali.

Vahid Halilhodzic’s team were the third side to qualify for the finals in Russia after finishing top of Group B in Asian qualifying, a 2-0 win over Australia sealing their place with a game to spare.

They have struggled for consistency since that win over the Socceroos, though, and that trend continued in Liege, as they failed to win for a sixth time in nine matches.

Friday’s encounter looked to have been decided by Abdoulay Diaby’s first-half penalty after Moussa Djenepo was hauled down in the penalty area.

But Japan found a way through in the closing seconds, Kento Misao setting up Nakajima to fire past substitute goalkeeper Mamadou Samassa.

Japan now turn their attention to Tuesday’s friendly with Ukraine at the same venue in Belgium.

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