Senegal became the first African team to win a match at the 2018 World Cup on Tuesday when they beat Poland 2-1 at Spartak Stadium, Moscow.
The win took Senegal top of Group H with three points, along with Japan who also beat Colombia by the same score. Colombia and Poland are both without a point.
Five thoughts from the game.
SENEGAL, COMPACT AND DISCIPLINED
In the first half, without the ball, Senegal formed two banks of four, leaving N’baye Niang and Mame Diouf upfront. This made it very difficult for Poland to find a way through the middle. Though Poland had more possession, they were restricted to passing the ball backwards and sideways. After going 2-0 up, Senegal switched to a back five and forced Poland backwards anytime they had the ball by closing them down quickly especially when they approached Senegal’s defensive third. Overall, it was a good display of midfield compactness and defensive solidity.
SABALI AND ISMAILA UP TO THE TASK
In the first half, the left flank was lit up by the imploding runs of Sabali. Most of Senegal’s attacks in the first half were initiated from the left flank. In the second half, Ismaila also had his turn as he improved upon his first-half performance. Sarr also did his best on the right flank.
The Senegalese defence led by Kalidou Koulibaly did a yeo man’s job in silencing Robert Lewandowski. Lewandowski was closely marked by Koulibaly. In fact, Lewandowski outwitted Koulibaly only once throughout the whole game. However, Salif Sane was there to shore things up, preventing Lewandowski from scoring. Senegal would later go on to score the result clinching goal.
ANOTHER LATE GOAL CONCEDED FROM A SET-PIECE
The worrying trend for Africa repeated itself as Senegal conceded a late goal [86th minute] from a set-piece [free-kick]. However, Senegal must work on their right side of defence as it appeared to be a weak link. Wague Moussa has to toughen up.
SENEGAL A BIT SLOW BECAUSE PLAYED TO PLAN?
Going forward, Senegal must look forward to adding a bit more pace to their attacking transition. The intensity of play was quite low and Senegal were not really threatening. Despite scoring 2 goals, Senegal barely created goal scoring opportunities and will definitely have to work on multiple attacking combinations. Well, I can’t really tell if it was because Senegal were playing to instructions and were being more tactical. Concerns were raised before the game about Senegal’s lack of creativity up front and it was very obvious as the game wore on. Probably, Sadio Mane can be moved into a more central position as he offers more of a threat from the middle and is quicker.