Lions of Teranga roaring proudly

Senegal pull off great win to hand Polish big setback

Senegal's forward Mbaye Niang, centre, vies with Poland's midfielder Piotr Zielinski during the Russia World Cup Group H football match between the nations yesterday
Senegal's forward Mbaye Niang, centre, vies with Poland's midfielder Piotr Zielinski during the Russia World Cup Group H football match between the nations yesterday
Image: AFP

Senegal took full advantage of their opponents’ errors to beat Poland 2-1 in their opening Group H match, finally giving Africa something to cheer about at the World Cup as the group favourites failed to fire.

Leading thanks to a clumsy Thiago Cionek own-goal in a poor first half, M’Baye Niang put the game beyond the disjointed Poles on the hour, seizing on goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny’s decision to race out of his area to gather a long back pass. Niang showed pace and control to beat the keeper and covering defender Jan Bednarek before slotting home in an empty net.

Grzegorz Krychowiak, author of the wayward backpass, made partial amends with a header five minutes from time but it was too late.

The result leaves Senegal, famous winners over defending champions France in the opening match of their last World Cup appearance in 2002, level with Japan.

The Asian team overcame Colombia by the same score earlier in the day. The last of five African teams to play in the tournament, The Lions of Teranga of Senegal are the only ones not to lose.

Poland have now gone six successive World Cups without scoring in their opening match and last won one in 1974.

l Yuya Osako exacted sweet revenge for Japan as the Blue Samurai beat Colombia 2-1, becoming the first Asian side ever to beat a South American team at the World Cup.

Osako’s 73rd-minute winner meant the Japanese avenged their
4-1 mauling in the group stages of Brazil 2014 as Colombia played with a man down for 86 minutes in Saransk.

After leaving Brazil without a win four years ago, Japan made a dream start to their Russian campaign even though head coach Akira Nishino was only appointed in April.

In an explosive start to the Group H clash, Colombia defender Carlos Sanchez earned the first red card of Russia 2018 with a handball after just four minutes.

Japan took a shock lead when Shinji Kagawa netted the resulting penalty before Juan Quintero equalised with a free-kick for Colombia to make it 1-1 at half-time.

Brazil 2014 topscorer James Rodriguez came on for the last half-hour after labouring in training with a calf strain but could not pull his side level after Osako’s goal.

Travelling Colombia fans turned the Mordovia Arena into a sea of yellow, but were soon stunned into silence.

When Osako fired in a shot from Japan’s first attack, Sanchez blocked the effort with a raised arm.

Referee Damir Skomina showed him a straight red card after pointing to the spot without referring to the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

The Colombians bitterly protested but Kagawa drilled home the spotkick to put Japan ahead in the sixth minute.

It was the second-fastest red card in World Cup finals history, bettered only by the 52 seconds it took Jose Batista of Uruguay to be sent off against Scotland at Mexico ‘86.

After the dismissal, Colombia poured forward and their captain Radamel Falcao twice went close. — AFP.

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