Careless Poland script their own downfall (Match Report)

Amol Gokhale
Wednesday, 20 June 2018

An own goal and a defensive lapse by Poland hands Senegal an unlikely 2-1 win over the European giants at the Spartak Stadium

MOSCOW: Poland scripted their own downfall against Senegal during their Group H fixture at the Spartak Stadium here on Tuesday evening, where a handful of Senegal fans went home cheering as against a large number of Poland fans, who went home disappointed. 

A first-half own goal and a lapse in communication and the lack of game awareness leading a series of errors on part of Poland's part gave Senegal a vital 2-1 victory over European opponents.

Thiago Cionek was the unfortunate defender’s deflection put a ball into the back of Poland’s own net, while winger Mbaye Niang ceased the opportunity to punish Poland in their first appearance at the World football’s biggest stage after 12 years.

Poland captain, Robert Lewandowski, making his World Cup debut, even dropped deep in the midfield to receive the pass, but was mostly kept quiet throughout the game by Senegal backline, and were denied a goal by superb save by The Lions of Teranga custodian Khadim Ndiaye early in the second-half.

The win leaves Senegal to three points and the second position in their Group H, behind Japan, who earlier won their match against Colombia by the same scoreline.

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For most of the match, both the sides relied on a swift counter-attack and quick one-twos between the players to reach from one end of the pitch to another, but both sides lacked the final pass to put the ball in the back of the net, where both keepers weren’t really tested.

It was no surprise that the opener came in the 38th minute as a result of one of the swift counter transition in the game. Mbaye Niang and Sadio Mane, who was ever busy making darting runs down the left flank, once again combined brilliantly, and the Senegal skipper, Mane, fed Idrissa Gueye.

The Everton midfielder fired a shot at goal from outside the box, which Juventus stopper Wojciech Szczesny would have saved as a regulation save, but the shot took a massive deflection off the central defender Thiago Cionek, leaving Szczesny wrong-footed, as the ball rolled into the right corner of the net.

The African side doubled the lead on the hour mark after the midfielder, Grzegorz Krychowiak, under no pressure from any Senegal man, put a high lofted backpass which landed in no-man's land.

Mbaye Niang was just trodding back on the field after receiving the treatment and ceased the opportunity to run at the loose ball, beat the onrushing Szczesny with a touch and with the open net at his mercy, put a simple tap-in into the back of the net.

Poland players complained long and hard about the fact that their side were left confused between apparent substitution that was about to take place and the fact that Niang was off-the-field and were unaware that he was back in action, but the referee Nawaf Shukralla did not change his decision.

Krychowiak, who had given away the ball that led to Poland's ultimate fall, scored a header from a set-piece in the 86th minute after Kamil Grosicki freekick picked him out in the Senegal box. But, it was too late by then as they could not turn the tide in their favour as Senegal maintained their discipline to see out the game.

The result marks the end of the first round of group stage matches, while the hosts Russia began the second round of games late on Tuesday when they faced Egypt.

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