Senegal claimed their first World Cup win since 2002 with a shock 2-1 victory over Poland in Group H.
In a tightly-fought contest, Thiago Cionek’s unfortunate own goal (37) handed Senegal the lead before their advantage was doubled through M’Baye Niang (60), who capitalised on a poor backpass from Grzegorz Krychowiak to score his first international goal after running on from the sideline having received treatment.
Krychowiak pulled a goal back for Poland with a powerful header four minutes from time, but Senegal held on for victory.
Poland: Szczesny (4), Piszczek (6), Cionek (4), Pazdan (6), Rybus (6), Krychowiak (5), Zielinski (5), Blaszczykowski (5), Milik (5), Grosicki (5), Lewandowski (5)
Subs: Bednarek (6), Kownacki (5), Bereszynski (6)
Senegal: N’Diaye (7), Wague (6), Sane (6), Koulibaly (6), Sabaly (7), Gueye (7), N’Diaye (7), Sarr (7), Mane (6), Niang (8), Diouf (6)
Subs: Konate (6), N’Doye (N/A), Kouyate (N/A)
Man of the match: M’Baye Niang
Senegal started the stronger team with Aliou Cisse’s men keen to break down the wings at any given opportunity. Their first chance landed to former Watford forward Niang, whose attempted squared ball towards the far post skidded narrowly wide before, at the other end, Piotr Zielinski directed his bullet header over the bar.
In the 37th minute, Senegal broke the deadlock as Idrissa Gueye’s strike from the edge of the box took a heavy deflection off Cionek, sending goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny the wrong way.
A corner from Niang then reached Salif Sane, but he smashed his free header into the ground and over the bar.
Poland responded brightly in the second half as Robert Lewandowski tested Khadim N’Diaye in the 52nd minute, but the Senegal goalkeeper did well to parry his effort away.
Sadio Mane started on the wing for Senegal with Mame Biram Diouf and M’Baye Niang leading the attack.
Robert Lewandowski spearheaded the Poland attack. Kamil Glik was on the bench.
Though Adam Nawałka’s side were growing into the game, Senegal scored on the hour mark following a dreadful error from Krychowiak. The PSG midfielder’s bizarre hoof back to Szczesny was intercepted by the onrushing Niang, allowing for a simple tap-in.
Arkadiusz Milik hit a first-time effort wide from close range in the 70th minute and four minutes from time, Poland pulled a goal back through Krychowiak as he rose highest to meet Kamil Grosicki’s free-kick and power in his header.
Senegal were able to hold on in the final few minutes, despite some late Poland pressure, to get their World Cup campaign off to a dream start.
- Senegal have won 50 percent of their World Cup matches (3/6), the best win rate of any African nation in the competition.
- All three of Senegal’s World Cup wins have been against European nations (France, Sweden and Poland).
- Poland have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last nine World Cup matches, since beating Portugal 1-0 in 1986.
- Poland have lost seven of their last nine World Cup matches (W2), failing to score in six of those losses.
- Poland are the first nation to make two errors leading to a goal in a single World Cup match so far in 2018.
Man of the Match – M’Baye Niang
He sparked numerous Senegal attacks and capped off an impressive performance with a goal on the hour-mark.
Poland continue their quest for qualification against Colombia at 7pm on Sunday. Senegal, meanwhile, take on Japan earlier on the same day at 4pm.