Niang sends Senegal joint top with Japan in group H

Niang sends Senegal joint top with Japan in group H

M’Baye Niang’s decisive strike gave the Teranga Lions of Senegal all three points against Poland in their Group H opener at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Following the disappointing run of African teams so far in the tournament, Senegal had it all to do against a Polish side captained by the highest goalscorer in the World Cup qualifiers with 16 goals. But at the end of 90 mins, Aliou Cisse’s men didn’t disappoint as they edged their European opponents 2-1 to go joint top of their group.

Right from the blast of the whistle, the Africans showed intent and hunger and it was only a matter of time before the first real chance of the game came their way. Niang was put through after a mazy run from left back, Youssouf Sabaly but the Torino loanee fired wide from a good angle.

The Teranga Lions however kept threatening with the pace of Niang and Mane upfront as Poland hardly created any clear chance. Finally in the 37th minute, Idrissa Gueye’s strike deflected off Thiago Cionek beyond Wojciech Szczesny in goal.

Poland started with a bit of urgency in the second half but toiled to find a goal as Kalidou Koulibaly and Salif Sane ensured that all balls into the Senegal area were well dealt with. Senegal however didn’t rest on their oars as a defensive mix-up let Niang in and the Milan striker pounced on a back pass to Szczesny to slot into an empty net and take the game beyond Poland.

The Africans wanted more and almost got a third but it was Grzegorz Krychowiak who pulled a goal back for Poland from a set piece situation in the 86th minute as Senegal held on for a famous victory to be the first African team to win a game at the 2018 World Cup.

Earlier in the day in the same group, goals from Shinji Kagawa and Yuya Osako handed Japan a famous victory over beat 10 man Colombia after Carlos Sanchez was given his marching orders in the third minute for handling a goal bound effort in the area.

Kagawa then stepped up to slot the resulting penalty past David Ospina in goal. But Colombia soon came right back into the game through a well struck freekick off the boot of Juan Quintero as both teams went in level at half time.

Japan however made their numerical advantage count in the 73rd minute when Osako nodded the Asians into the lead in what happened to be the winning goal.

After the first round of fixtures, Senegal and Japan sit joint top in Group H having both secured 2-1 wins over their opponents.

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