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Russia on brink of next stage after beating Egypt

Poland’s mishaps help Senegal claim first African win

By Reuters - Jun 20,2018 - Last updated at Jun 20,2018

Egypt’s Mohamed Salah scores his first goal from the penalty spot against Russia during the 2018 World Cup in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday (Reuters photo by Henry Romero)

World Cup hosts Russia kept up their free-scoring ways to move to the brink of a second round place with a 3-1 beat over Egypt in their Group A match at the Saint Petersburg Stadium on Tuesday.

Russia’s place in the knockout stages will be secured on Wednesday if Uruguay avoid defeat against Saudi Arabia in the next Group A game.

Ahmed Fathi put the ball into his own net two minutes after halftime, followed by two goals in a three minute spell from Denis Cheryshev and Artem Dzyuba around the hour mark as Russia took their tournament goal tally to eight in two games.

Egyptian talisman Mohamed Salah, playing for the first time since injuring his shoulder in last month’s Champions League final, pulled one back from a 73rd minute penalty, awarded after a review by the video assistant referee.

Senegal became the first African team to win a match at the 2018 World Cup on Tuesday when they beat Poland 2-1, helped by two shocking errors in the European side’s defence.

Poland defender Thiago Cionek stuck out a leg and deflected Idrissa Gueye’s wayward shot into the net in the 37th minute before goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny rushed recklessly out of his area and allowed M’Baye Niang to nip in and score into an empty net on the hour.

Szczesny may have been caught out because Niang was having treatment on the touchline and reentered the pitch as the ball was played backwards to the Poland goalkeeper by Grzegorz Krychowiak.

Krychowiak headed Poland’s goal in the 86th minute.

The win took Senegal top of Group H with three points, along with Japan who also beat Colombia by the same score on Tuesday. Colombia and Poland are both without a point.

It was a relief for Africa after Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia all lost their opening games.

Poland’s record scorer Robert Lewandowski got little change out of a well-drilled Senegal defence, led by Kalidou Koulibaly, and they sorely missed key defender Kamil Glik, still recovering from a training injury sustained two weeks ago.

“I’m satisfied with my players, really proud of them. I think they arrived with a lot of determination, they have worked hard,” said Senegal coach Aliou Cisse. “I think it is really a generation that deserves a lot of credit and respect.”

The first half hour was a sorry affair strewn with misplaced passes from both sides and neither of the danger men, Lewandowski and Senegal’s Sadio Mane, saw much of the ball.

The first shot on target produced the first goal as Senegal went ahead in the 37th minute.

Niang won a challenge with Lukasz Piszczek, burst down the left and found Mane who in turn slipped the ball to Gueye.

The midfielder’s shot appeared to be going wide until the hapless Cionek stuck out a leg and deflected it past Szczesny.

Lewandowski sprang into life five minutes after halftime as he won possession, burst clear and was up-ended by Salif Sane. He took the free kick himself and although he managed Poland’s first shot on target, it was saved by Khadim N’Diaye.

Poland appeared to be coming back into the game until the most embarrassing moment of the World Cup so far.

Krychowiak sent a long ball back from deep inside the Senegal half, Szczesny rushed out of his area to collect the pass but Niang stole in to score to Polish disbelief.

Krychowiak partially made amends with his goal but it was too late for the disappointing Poles.

“Second goal — I do not know,” said Poland defender Michal Pazdan. “The player ran in, he was behind the side line of the pitch. There are no such situations on a daily basis.

“But it does not change the fact that we lacked concentration at the beginning of the second half, because it seems that we could have played a different game, if they hadn’t scored the second.”

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