Moscow: Senegal recorded the first African win at the 2018 World Cup when they beat Poland 2-1 here Tuesday thanks to a deflected Thiago Cionek own goal and a terrible error by Polish ‘keeper Wojciech Szczesny.
West Bromwich Albion midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak got Poland back in the game with an 86th-minute header but Senegal hung on at the Spartak Stadium here.
In a match billed as a straight fight between super-strikers Robert Lewandowski and Sadio Mane neither scored. However Liverpool’s Mane set up Idrissa Gueye for the shot that took a wicked deflection off Cionek, leaving Szczesny totally wrong-footed in the Polish goal for Senegal’s opener on 37 minutes.
The West Africans doubled their lead in the 60th minute when the experienced Juventus goalkeeper had a moment to forget.
Krychowiak put Poland in trouble with a woeful bouncing back pass, but Szczesny opted rashly to charge out of his penalty area. The speedy Mbaye Niang got in front of his defender, nicked the ball away from Szczesny and rolled it into the empty net.
The goal sparked wild celebrations among the Senegalese players and incredulity among Poland’s.
Senegal, the 2002 quarterfinalists, could have won by a bigger margin but for fluffed chances. Saif Sane failed to connect with a header deep into the first half when he was left unmarked inside the Polish penalty box.
Minutes after half time, Sane was fortunate not to be sent off for a challenge on Lewandowski when he brought down the Polish striker as he charged towards goal. He escaped with a yellow card. Lewandowski curled the free-kick over the Senegal wall but Khadim Ndiaye palmed it away.
Krychowiak connected with Kamil Grosicki’s cross to give Poland hope, but they were unable to make up the deficit despite four minutes of injury time.