Samurais Defeat Colombians, Senegal Secures 1st African Victory

M’Baye Niang scored the second  goal for Senegal.
M’Baye Niang scored the second  goal for Senegal.

On the sixth day of the World Cup matches, Japan beat Colombia to revenge the loss in 2014 World Cup while host country Russia cemented the Group H top spot; and Senegal became the first African team to win a game in the current tournament after winning over an undisciplined Poland on Tuesday.

The Samurais upset 10-man Colombia 2-1 in a dramatic match in Saransk, Russia, to become the first Asian side to beat South American opponents at the World Cup, Reuters reported.

During the previous World Cup series, Asian teams had managed three draws in 17 matches against South American sides but the four-times Asian champion made its extra man count after Colombia midfielder Carlos Sanchez became the first player to get a red card in Russia.

His sending-off in the third minute, for a deliberate handball, was the second fastest in World Cup history after Uruguay’s Jose Batista was dismissed after 55 seconds against Scotland in 1986.

Shinji Kagawa scored from the resulting penalty to give Japan the lead in the Group H match. Juan Quintero’s clever low free kick in the 39th minute gave Colombia the equalizer but Yuya Osako leapt above his marker to head a corner into the net for Japan’s 73rd-minute winner.

With Colombia ranked 16th in the world and Japan 61st, the South Americans did not imagine losing the game at all.

It was also sweet revenge for Japan, which was thumped 4-1 by the same opponent in Brazil 2014.

 Russia Closer to Knockout Stage

World Cup host Russia virtually booked its place in the second round with a 3-1 win over Egypt that moved the team to top of Group A with the total six points from two games.

A three goal blitz in the space of 15 minutes early in the second half put the Russians firmly in command before Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, who had a subdued game on his return from injury, struck from a penalty, awarded after a video review.

It is an unexpectedly positive situation for a Russian side that came into this tournament amidst skepticism and pessimism at home. After the two confident victories, with eight goals, the public appear to have taken the team to their hearts.

 First African Victory

Senegal became the first African team to win a match at the 2018 World Cup when it beat Poland 2-1, helped by an own goal from a Brazilian-born Polish defender and a nightmare moment for slippery-hand goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny in Moscow.

Thiago Cionek stuck out a leg and deflected Idrissa Gueye’s wayward shot into the net to give Senegal the lead with game’s first shot on target in the 37th minute.

The second goal was even more of a gift for the Lions of Teranga, who were making their first appearance at the World Cup since reaching the quarterfinals in 2002.

Poland midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak played the ball back from inside the Senegal half but the defense failed to notice that M’Baye Niang, who had been on the touchline receiving treatment, had re-entered the field.

Szczesny rushed out of his area to try and intercept but Niang got to the ball first, slipped it past him and scored into an empty net amid Polish disbelief.

Krychowiak replied with an 86th minute header but it was too little for the Poles who are now in danger of repeating the group stage exit they suffered on their last appearance at the finals in 2006. The win put Senegal and Japan level on three points at the top of Group H. It was a relief for Africa after Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia all lost their opening games.

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