Bysgoszcz: Japan showed their resilience and pedigree as they came from behind to hold South American champions Ecuador to a 1-1 draw in their opening 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup Group B tie at the Bysgoszcz Stadium on Thursday.
Ecuador took the lead right before half-time, albeit rather fortuitously. From a free-kick, Japan goalkeeper Tomoya Wakahara punched his clearance directly into teammate Kyosuke Tagawa's face and the ball ricocheted into the goal.
However, Japan fought their way back into the game with a large amount of the credit due to Wakahara, who saved Jordan Rezabala's penalty early in the second half to keep his team in with a chance.
That moment proved to be just what the Samurai Blue needed as Kota Yamada equalised in the 68th minute, steering his shot home from close range after Ecuador keeper Moises Ramirez failed to clear his lines.
Up next for Japan will be Mexico in Gdynia on Sunday, while Ecuador will stay in Bydgoszcz and play Group B leaders Italy on the same day. The Italians edged Mexico 2-1 in the group's other match on Thursday.
In Group A matches on Thursday, record-breaker Amadou Sagna hit a hat-trick as Senegal swept past Tahiti 3-0, with the forward's first goal coming just 9.6 seconds into the match - the fastest goal in the tournament's history.
Host Poland got off to a losing start as Colombia proved too strong in a 2-0 victory for the South Americans.
Qatar will be in Group D action against Nigeria on Friday while Asia's other two representatives - Korea Republic and reigning AFC U-19 Championship champions Saudi Arabia - will open their respective campaigns on Saturday.
Korea Republic will face two-time winners Portugal in Group F while Saudi Arabia will face 2013 champions France in Group E.
Sources: FIFA.com, FIFA via Getty Images