Senegal’s Teranga Lions recorded Africa’s first victory at the ongoing 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, beating Poland 2-1 at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow.
The victory evoked memories of Senegal’s most recent World Cup campaign – their debut 16 years ago – in which they defeated holders France in Seoul in the opening match.
The Poles are not quite as huge a scalp as Les Bleus, but the African side, were underdogs nevertheless, and belied that status with their energetic performance. Idrissa Gueye’s low drive was deflected into his own net by Thiago Cionek, but the Teranga Lions were good value for their lead.
Mbaye Niang seized an opportunity in the hesitant Poland defence to round Wojciech Szczesny and double his side’s advantage after the break.
Grzegorz Krychowiak’s decision-making was partly to blame for Senegal’s second and he made some amends by reducing the arrears with a late goal.
But it was ultimately in vain as Aliou Cisse’s side held on to claim three points – their first World Cup win since Cisse captained the side to victory against Sweden in the Korea/Japan 2002 Round of 16.
The defeat proved the worry of the Polish team’s handlers right. Before the game, they wondered whether their defence could keep out Senegal’s attack without Kamil Glik, who is nursing a shoulder injury.
Glik is called “the boss of Polish defence” and it proved impossible to find an adequate replacement for him Tuesday.
Poland needs to improve elsewhere too ahead of the next clash against Colombia.