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WC 2018: Senegal Beat Poland by 2-1

Moscow (June 19, 2018): Senegal became the first African team to win at this year’s World Cup, defeating Poland 2-1 Tuesday on a first-half own-goal and a controversial second-half strike by Mbaye Niang.

Senegal, back in the tournament for the first time since 2002, went ahead in the 37th minute when Thiago Cionek’s attempted block of Idrissa Gueye’s shot wrong-footed goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who was picked to start over fellow Arsenal castoff Lukasz Fabianski.

Niang, who had returned to the field from treatment, later beat Szczesny to a backpass and had an open net when he doubled the lead in the 60th.Grzegorz Krychowiak, whose backpass led to Senegal’s second goal, headed in a free kick in the 86th minute to end Poland’s streak of five straight scoreless World Cup openers.

Both teams’ stars, Senegal’s Sadio Mane and Poland’s Robert Lewandowski, rarely threatened in quiet World Cup debuts.

Senegal is tied for the group lead with Japan, which upset Colombia 2-1 earlier. Senegal will play Japan on Sunday, when Poland meets Colombia.

Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia had been outscored 6-1 as African teams started 0-4.

Poland kept up its track record of dismal World Cup starts. It has four losses and three draws since beating Argentina in 1974.Senegal President Macky Sall was in the stands to watch his nation’s first World Cup match since 2002, when the team reached the quarterfinals before losing to Turkey. Poland returned for the first time since 2006.

Poland fans in red and white were about three-quarters of the crowd, and they chanted and clapped throughout.

Lewandowski topped the Bundesliga in scoring in three of the last five seasons and while he had 16 of Poland’s 28 goals in qualifying, he managed only one goal at the 2012 European Championship and one at Euro 2016.

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