Sadio Mane still plays a pivotal part despite not being the main man in Senegal's win over Poland

Matt Jones 19/06/2018
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Senegal claimed the first win for an African team at this year’s World Cup as they earned a 2-1 triumph against Poland in Moscow.

Everton’s Idrissa Gueye opened the scoring in the first half although his effort took a huge deflection off the unfortunate Thiago Cionek. They doubled their advantage after the break, but in controversial circumstances when Mbaye Niang sprinted back on to the field of play after injury and immediately intercepted Grzegorz Krychowiak’s woeful backpass, before beating goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to slot home.

Krychowiak’s fine header late on made the last few minutes interesting but Senegal held on.

Here, we analyse the performance of Senegal skipper and Liverpool wideman, Sadio Mane.

STATISTICS

Goals – 0

Assists – 1

Shots – 1

Shots on target – 0

Touches – 39

Passes – 37

Key passes – 2

Dribbles – 1

Dispossessed – 0

30-SECOND REPORT

He is without doubt Senegal’s star man, but Mane had to play more of a support act rather than his usual role of leading man. But he was happy to do his bit for the team – an impish bit of skill midway through the first half not only livened up the game, but Mane too. A beautiful pirouette when receiving the ball in a tight situation instantly turned defence into attack for the Africans.

GOT RIGHT

Understated impact – Found himself a little on the periphery here, especially in the first half, but the lively Liverpool wideman still had a telling impact on proceedings. After switching briefly to a central role he received the ball off Niang after a fine run from the lively Torino forward and teed up Idrissa Gueye for his fortunate opener.

GOT WRONG

Utilising speed – For a man blessed with such searing speed, he struggled to assert his dominance over a Poland team whose midfield and defence is hardly blessed with pace. Mane was up against a 33-year-old right-back and 32-year-old right midfielder in Lukasz Piszczek and Jakub Blaszczykowski, but was unable to take advantage of his obvious talents and Poland’s plodding defence.

VERDICT

He’s had bigger impacts in games, and surely will feature more prominently as the tournament progresses, but he never shirked responsibility. In fact he went in search of work in the centre of the pitch towards the end of the half as he wasn’t having much impact from wide on the left – and that move paid off immediately as he set up the crucial opening goal.

RATING: 7/10

All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com

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Fortune doesn't favour brave Jose Pekerman and other talking points as Japan stun Colombia at World Cup

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Jose Pekerman brought on James and went all-out for the win, but it was in vain.

Japan produced a stunning result at the World Cup on Tuesday as they beat Colombia 2-1 in the two sides’ Group H opener.

They benefitted from an early red card for Colombia, midfielder Carlos Sanchez sent off for handling Shinji Kagawa’s shot in the box. Though Juan Quintero cancelled out Kagawa’s subsequent penalty with a superb free-kick, Japan had the last laugh as Yuya Osako popped up for a memorable winning goal.

Here are the talking points from the game.

FORTUNE DOESN’T FAVOUR THE BRAVE FOR COLOMBIA

Jose Pekerman will wonder why the old ‘fortune favours the brave’ adage didn’t hold true for him. The Colombia manager made two bold calls. Firstly, he didn’t rush to make a change when his team went down to 10 men as most managers do, instead waiting to see what his players could do before pulling the trigger and taking off Juan Cuadrado for midfielder Wilmar Barrios, who helped restore some control in midfield.

Then, having seen his side produce a battling display and effectively hold serve after equalising through Juan Quintero’s brilliant free-kick, Pekerman decided to go for the win, bringing on talisman James Rodriguez for Quintero and reliable goalscorer Carlos Bacca in search of a winning goal.

Hindsight may be perfect, but even allowing for the fact that his side conceded just minutes after Bacca came on, it’s hard to say the Colombia man got his decisions wrong.

Faced with a strong group that also includes Poland and Senegal, Pekerman knew how vital taking three points from this game was – even more so given they had gone a goal behind and a man down just six minutes into the game.

Winning from there would have lifted his side and given them momentum. Alas, his bravery was not rewarded.

It was that sort of day for Colombia manager Jose Pekerman.

It was that sort of day for Colombia manager Jose Pekerman.

HISTORIC WIN PUTS JAPAN IN PRIME POSITION

History was against Japan on Tuesday, as they’d never beaten a South American team at a World Cup and never won a World Cup game in Europe. And that’s before you consider the relative strength of the two sides – Colombia have a FIFA ranking of 16th, 45 places ahead of the Samurai Blue at 61st.

No matter. This was a professional performance, showcasing a steel and maturity that not many would have expected from Japan. They didn’t panic when 10-man Colombia were taking the game to them, nor did they let themselves be affected by missed chances, of which there were plenty.

Instead, they kept plugging away, and were duly rewarded for their efforts with Osako’s goal, which proved to be the winner.

Even after that, the way they held Colombia at bay as the South Americans chased what would have been a well-deserved equaliser was admirable.

Japan have only emerged from the group stages at a World Cup twice before, in 2002 and 2010. The job here is far from done. Senegal and Poland will be tough opponents – indeed, there is an argument that this is the Group of Death everyone’s been looking for. But they’ve put themselves in a great position.

Japan are in good position to qualify for the knockout stages.

Japan are in a good position to qualify for the knockout stages.

HAS SANCHEZ HARPOONED COLOMBIA’S QUALIFICATION HOPES?

Heading into this game, Japan looked like the easiest opponents Colombia would face in the group. Poland and Senegal are ranked eighth and 27th respectively, and Colombia would have hoped to go into those games with three points already in hand.

Carlos Sanchez effectively put paid to that plan. His teammates did their best to mitigate the damage, putting in a wonderful performance with 10 men who didn’t deserve to be on the losing side, and it’s only natural to wonder what they could have pulled off had Sanchez not had his moment of madness.

It’s not just that he got sent off, it was the manner of the red card. Understandable though the instinct may be to protect your goal at all costs, sticking out a hand to block a shot is inexcusable – especially with 87 minutes of the match to play.

The only way it can turn out a good idea is if the subsequent penalty is missed – not a gamble anyone should be willing to take, Luis Suarez’s luck in 2010 notwithstanding.

Instead, Colombia were hamstrung for nearly the whole game. They face Poland next, which is now a must-win when Pekerman would have budgeted for a draw. Qualification looks tough from here.

Carlos Sanchez has dealt Colombia's hopes a huge blow.

Carlos Sanchez has dealt Colombia’s hopes a huge blow.

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Lions of Teranga roar to 2-1 win as Senegal beat Poland in World Cup opener

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Senegal deservedly defeated Poland to claim the first win by an African team at the World Cup.

The Lions of Teranga roared into an early lead shortly before the break when a shot from Everton’s Idrissa Gueye took a huge deflection off the unfortunate Thiago Cionek.

They extended that lead midway through the first half, but in controversial fashion as M’Baye Niang sprinted back on to the field of play after injury and immediately intercepted an awkward looking backpass from Grzegorz Krychowiak, beating former Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and Southampton defender Jan Bednarek to the ball to slot into an empty net.

Confusion reigned while many of the Polish players were disgusted, they protested in vain to referee Nawaf Shukralla.

Poland created little, but ensured there would be a frantic finale when West Brom midfielder Krychowiak headed home brilliantly from a deep free-kick at the far post.

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