Senegal punish Poland in first African victory
Niang and Gueye make the most of shocking errors as West Africans go to the top of Group H with Japan
Moscow — Senegal became the first African team to win a match at the 2018 World Cup on Tuesday when they beat Poland 2-1, helped by two shocking errors in the European side’s defence.
Poland defender Thiago Cionek stuck out a leg and deflected Idrissa Gueye’s wayward shot into the net in the 37th minute before goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny rushed unnecessarily out of his area and allowed M’Baye Niang to nip in and score into an empty net on the hour.
Grzegorz Krychowiak headed Poland’s goal from a free kick in the 86th minute.
The win took Senegal to the top of Group H with three points, along with Japan, who beat Colombia by the same score.
Colombia and Poland are both without a point.
Poland’s record scorer Robert Lewandowski got little change out of a well-drilled Senegal defence, led by Kalidou Koulibaly, and they sorely missed key defender Kamil Glik, still recovering from a training injury sustained two weeks ago.
The first half hour was a sorry affair strewn with misplaced passes from both sides and neither of the danger men, Lewandowski and Senegal’s Sadio Mane, seeing much of the ball.
The first shot on target produced the first goal as Senegal went ahead in the 38th minute.
Niang won a challenge with Lukasz Piszczek, burst down the left and found Mane, who in turn slipped the ball to Gueye.
The midfielder’s shot appeared to be going wide until the hapless Cionek stuck out a leg and deflected it past his own goalkeeper.
Lewandowski sprang into life five minutes after halftime as he won possession, burst clear and was up-ended by Salif Sane. He took the free kick himself and although he managed Poland’s first shot on target, it was saved by Khadim N’Diaye.
Poland appeared to be coming back into the game until the most embarrassing moment of the World Cup so far.
Krychowiak sent a long ball back from deep inside the Senegal half, Szczesny rushed out of his area to collect the pass but Niang stole in to score to Polish disbelief. Krychowiak partially made amends with his goal but it was too late for the disappointing Poles.
Japan upset 10-man Colombia 2-1 in a dramatic match on Tuesday to become the first Asian side to beat South American opponents at the World Cup.
Asian teams had managed three draws in 17 matches against South American sides but the four-times Asian champions made their extra man count after Colombia midfielder Carlos Sanchez became the first player to get a red card at these finals.
His sending-off in the third minute, for a deliberate handball, was the second fastest in World Cup history after Uruguay’s Jose Batista was dismissed after 55 seconds against Scotland in 1986.
Shinji Kagawa scored from the resulting penalty to give Japan the lead in the Group H match. Juan Quintero’s clever low free kick in the 39th minute gave Colombia the equaliser, but Yuya Osako leapt above his marker to head a corner into the net for Japan’s winner 17 minutes from time.
"To lose one player in the first three minutes — and to lose such a crucial player — is not an easy thing," Colombia’s Argentine coach Jose Pekerman told reporters.
With Colombia ranked 16th in the world and Japan 61st, the South Americans were fully expected to win.
It was also sweet revenge for Japan, who were thumped 4-1 by the same opponents in Brazil 2014, but they wasted plenty of chances to kill the game off earlier.