- Gueye’s low shot deflected into own net by Cionek
- Niang pounced on Polish hesitancy to double lead, Krychowiak grabs late consolation
Senegal have recorded the first African win at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, beating Poland 2-1 at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow. It evoked memories of their most recent World Cup campaign – their debut 16 years ago – in which they defeated holders France in Seoul in their opening match.
The Poles are not quite as huge a scalp as Les Bleus, but the African side were underdogs nevertheless, and belied that status with their energetic performance. Idrissa Gueye’s low drive was deflected into his own net by Thiago Cionek, but the Teranga Lions were good value for their lead. Mbaye Niang seized an opportunity in the hesitant Poland defence to round Wojciech Szczesny and double his side’s advantage after the break.
Grzegorz Krychowiak’s decision-making was partly to blame for Senegal’s second and he made some amends by reducing the arrears with a late goal. But it was ultimately in vain as Aliou Cisse’s side held on to claim three points – their first World Cup win since Cisse captained the side to victory against Sweden in the Korea/Japan 2002 Round of 16.
Team reporter analysis
The biggest worry for Poland before the game was whether their defence could keep out Senegal’s attack without Kamil Glik, who is nursing a shoulder injury. Glik is called “the boss of Polish defence” and it proved impossible to find an adequate replacement for him today. Poland need to improve elsewhere too ahead of the clash against Colombia.
“We have talent that we want to show to the world,” declared coach Aliou Cisse when his team landed in Russia. His side showed some of that ability against the higher-ranked Poles. They deserved their win against a team who were wasteful in front of goal. The only blemish for the Teranga Lions was that key players Idrissa Gueye and Salif Sane picked up yellow cards.
Budweiser Man of the Match
Senegal striker Mbaye Niang not only made the game safe for his team with a second goal, but was full of running and troubled the opposing defence with his size and physical presence when he was on the pitch.
4 – Senegal are one of only three sides in World Cup history (including East Germany and Wales, both three) who are unbeaten in group stage matches, having now played four without a single defeat.
Poland-Colombia – Group H, 24 June, Kazan
Japan-Senegal – Group H, 24 June, Ekaterinburg