Sweet, sad day for Africa at the World Cup
Two goals for Senegal in their opening World Cup game against Poland excited Africa but the party was spoilt by a 3:1 defeat of Egypt at the hands of the hosts, Russia.
Senegal’s 2:1 Group H win against Poland was the first African win at the 2018 World Cup 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 Moscow’s Spartak Stadium.
In a match billed as a straight fight between super-strikers Robert Lewandowski and Sadio Mane, neither scored but Liverpool striker 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 on the 60-minute mark 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.
In the second Group A match, hosts, Russia, who beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 in their opening game, took the lead thanks to a bizarre 47th-minute own goal from Ahmed Fathi, who diverted Roman Zobnin’s shot into his own net.
Denis Cheryshev doubled Russia’s advantage after he finished from Mario Fernandes’ pull-back, before Artem Dzyuba sealed the victory with a fine individual goal.
Liverpool forward Salah, playing for the first time since sustaining a shoulder injury in the Champions League final, converted a penalty after he had been fouled – but it was not enough to mount an Egypt fightback.