This was the first time Senegal have ever played an Asian team in the World Cup with the match played just inside Asia at the Ekaterinburg stadium. Japan strolled out of the tunnel with an unchanged lineup after the winning start against Colombia. There was one change for Senegal with Stoke striker Diouf dropped so the goalscorer against Poland, M’Baye Niang could move into a central position with Sadio Mane and Ismaili Sarr on the flanks.
In the first few minutes of the match Japan knew they had their work cut out with Senegal able to easily create space in wide areas. Japan defended early corners confidently but struggled to attack themselves, Shinji Kagawa having the best of the early touches for the Asian team. As composed as the Borussia Dortmund midfielder was, his teammates were struggling. Sarr was running Nagatomo ragged and it was his cross that was so poorly defended by Haraguchi whose headed clearance fell straight into the path of Youssouf Sabaly. Sabaly’s effort was deflected into the goal as Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima punched the ball onto Sadio Mane. It was a fully deserved opener for Senegal who continued to push after their breakthrough.