Senegal take advantage of defensive errors in 2-1 win over Poland
Poland 1 (Krychowiak 86′)
Senegal 2 (Cionek 37′ og, Niang 60′)
By Patrick Woods
An own goal and a poor back pass that lead to a goal have given Senegal a win over Poland in their opening World Cup match in Moscow.
The win is the first for an African team at the World Cup since Algeria beat Korea 4-2 in the group stages of the 2014 tournament.
???? The first time #POL have conceded to a @CAF_Online nation at the World Cup
???? First win for an African team at the #WorldCup since Algeria's victory over #KOR in 2014 group stage. #POLSEN pic.twitter.com/t8CzBer3MK
— FIFA World Cup ???? (@FIFAWorldCup) June 19, 2018
The match started slowly with both teams playing conservatively, not willing to commit numbers to attack and instead opting to put long balls over the defence for their forwards to run onto.
It took 37 minutes until Senegal took the lead, when an off-target shot from Idrissa Gueye was deflected by defender Thiago Cionek into the net.
At the time of the goal, Senegal had only 39 per cent of possession and both teams were still yet to take their first shot on target.
Minutes before half-time Salif Sane found himself open in front of goal and managed to head the ball towards Szczęsny, but the ball was directed at the ground and bounced harmlessly over the crossbar.
Poland started the second half as the better team, creating several chances in the opening 10 minutes. The best chance was a Lewandowski free kick on the edge of the box after Sane brought him down, earning the defender a yellow card.
Senegal’s second goal came when man-of-the-match Niang pounced on a poor back pass that forced Szczęsny out of his box to try to clear the ball. Niang poked the ball around the Polish keeper and slotted the ball into an empty net.
The second goal took a lot of enthusiasm out of Poland, who struggled to put any effective attack together as the Lions of Teranga slowed the game down.
Poland lifted in the final 10 minutes as they fought to salvage a result, with Grzegorz Krychowiak finally opening their scoring in the 86th minute. He found space at the back post to head a free kick across the face of goal and into the back of the net, but it was a case of too little, too late as Senegal held onto their lead to close out the game.
After the match, Senegal head coach Aliou Cisse applauded his team but was careful not to get ahead of himself.
“Today we managed to control the game tactically, we managed to control the game emotionally, as well, and that is very important.
“What is also very important is victory, and this victory means that we are able to enter the competition in the best possible way. But we are not too euphoric because we do know that there is going to be a difficult match against Japan after this Polish match.”
The win puts Senegal level with Japan at the top of Group H, with the Blue Samurai also winning their match against Colombia 2-1 earlier in the night.
Poland will play Colombia on the 25th of June (AEST) with both teams desperate for a win that could decide which of the two will have a chance of progressing past the group stage.
Shot Attempts (On Target):
Poland: 10 (4)
Senegal: 8 (2)
Poland: (4-4-2) 1 Szczęsny (GK), 20 Piszczek (83’), 4 Cionek, 2 Pazdan, 13 Rybus, 16 Błaszczykowski, 10 Krychowiak, 19 Zielinski, 11 Grosicki, 7 Milik (74’), 9 Lewandowski (c)
Substitutes: 3 Jędrzejczyk, 5 Bendarek, 6 Góralski, 8 Linetty, 12 Bialkowski, 14 Teodorczyk, 15 Glik, 17 Peszko, 18 Bereszyński (83’), 21 Kurzawa, 22 Fabiański (GK), 23 Kownacki (74’)
Senegal: (4-4-2) 16 K. N’Diaye (GK), 22 Wague, 6 Sane, 3 Koulibaly, 12 Sabaly, 18 Sarr, 13 A. N’Diaye (87’), 5 Gueye, 10 Mane (c), 19 Niang (75’), 9 Diouf (62’)
Substitutes: 1 Diallo (GK), 2 Mbengue, 4 Kara, 7 Sow, 8 Kouyate (87’), 11 N’Doye (62’), 14 Konate (75’), 15 Sahko, 17 B. N’Diaye, 20 Keita, 21 Gassama, 23 Gomis