Poland could be on their way out of Russia 2018 following the loss of their opener against top rated African side Senegal on Tuesday. The Sadio Mane skippered side deservedly pipped Poland 2-1 to get a real chance at topping the group after the lowest rated Japanese side shocked Columbia 2-1 earlier.
M’Baye Niang came on from the sidelines just when Krychowiak passed the ball back and Wojciech Szcezny and Jan Bednarek scrambled to get hold of the ball. Niang buried the ball much to the disgust of the Polish players who protested to referee Nawaf Shukralla. All protests fell on deaf ears as Poland questioned letting the player come back on – after going out of play due to injury – when he did. The World Cup has been filled with VAR drama, penalties, and own goals, so this just adds to it.
Grzegorz Krychowiak stunned Senegal with a well headed goal to the far post from a set piece. The 2-1 scoreline made for an interesting final minutes but Senegal kept their calm for the win.
Senegal had experienced defensive pair in Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly and Salif Sane of Hannover 96. They combined to keep the Polish attacks in check. Robert Lewandowski barely got opportunities to show how dangerous he could be.
The Senegalese side could be the rallying point for the Africans after all others sides had disappointing openers. It was Tunisia who scored first of all African teams but England’s last minute goal through Harry Kane denied them a valuable draw after all other African sides lost. Senegal is the first African side in Russia to get a win and more than a goal. Even Nigeria who were expected to do better lost to Croatia and Morocco were shocked by Iran in the last minute despite playing well.
The 29-year old Lewandowski carried the hopes of the Polish side, which had huge following at the Spartak Moscow Stadium. He scored 16 out of 28 goals in the qualifying race. Poland saw more of the ball 61% and they had a few more chances than their rivals but they were simply blunt in attack and struggled with the athleticism and creativity of the Senegalese side. He would need to do better if Poland are to fend off a hungry Columbian side or a Japanese side that a draw could send them to the next stage.