Senegal secure Africa's first World Cup win

Senegal secure Africa's first World Cup win
Sadio Mane of Senegal (C) and goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny of Poland (R) in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group H match

by Austin Ditlhobolo

Tuesday Jun 19, 2018. 19:18

Senegal edged out Poland 2-1 in their maiden 2018 World Cup Group H game at the Spartak Stadium in Russia on Tuesday.

As a result, the Lions of Teranga moved to the top of Group H standings after match day one, while the White and Reds find themselves on position four on the table.

The Lions of Teranga looked lively in the opening stages of the game - creating chances as they looked to grab an early goal against the White and Reds.

Sadio Mane played a through pass for his Senegal teammate M'Baye Niang in the 10th minute, but Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny reacted quickly and he snatched the ball away.

Moussa Wague then sent Niang through on goal with a delightful pass eight minutes later, but somehow the latter fired wide of the target as Poland survived a scare.

The White and Reds captain and centre forward Robert Lewandowski had a rare chance a few minutes before the half-hour mark.

However, the highly-rated marksman placed his shot wide of the target without troubling Senegal shot-stopper Khadim N'Diaye, who had a relatively quiet first-half.

The Lions of Teranga kept pushing for the opening goal and they deservedly broke the deadlock eight minutes after the half-hour mark following a good move.

Mane set-up Idrissa Gueye on the edge of the Poland box and the latter unleashed a low effort which was deflected into the back of the net by Thiago Cionek, who scored an own goal to make it 1-0 to Senegal.

Poland tried to respond with a goal with the half-time break fast approaching, but the Senegal defence looked solid and impenetrable.

Senegal were deservedly leading 1-0 at the interval, having dominated the first-half.

The White and Reds came back rejuvenated after their half-time team talk with Poland coach Adama Nawalka.

They were awarded a free-kick in a promising area in the 49th minute and Lewandowski stepped up, and forced N'Diaye into a great diving save from the set-piece.

Senegal then doubled their lead on the hour mark following a mistake by Poland midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak, who failed to kick the ball to on-rushing Szczesny.

This allowed hard-working centre forward Niang to sprint in and dink the ball past Szczesny and tap into the open goal to make it 2-0 to Senegal.

Poland then took control of the match and they nearly pulled one back in the 78th minute when Maciej Rybus' cross found Piotr Zielinski at the far post.

However, Zielinski's header bounced into N'Diaye's hands as White and Reds pushed for their first goal of the match with time running out.

Krychowiak managed to make amends for his mistake when he scored from Kamil Grosicki's free-kick to make it 2-1 for Poland with four minutes left on the clock.

But Senegal captain Mane and his troops then stood firm at the back in the dying minutes of the game and ultimately, the Lions of Teranga ran out 2-1 winners over Poland.

Senegal (1) 2 (Cionek 38', Niang 60')

Poland (0) 1 (Krychowiak 86')

Senegal: N'Diaye, Sabaly, Koulibaly, Sane, Wague, Niang (Konate 75'), Gueye, A.N'Diaye (Kouyate 87'), Mane, Diouf (N'Doye 62').

Poland: Szczesny, Rybus, Cionek, Pazdan, Piszczek (Piszczek 83'), Zielinski, Krychowiak, Grosicki, Milik (Kownacki 73') Blaszczykowski (Bednarek 46'), Lewandowski.

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