Senegal’s Teranga Lions suffered a devastating 1-0 loss to Colombia in Samara that allowed Japan to progress at their expense on yellow cards
Senegal could and possibly should have squeezed past Colombia to book at tie with England or Belgium in the last 16, but they fell to a Yerry Mina header form a corner to end Africa’s involvement in the World Cup. After Nigeria pushed Argentina all the way in their final group game, Senegal became the latest African outfit to suffer heartbreak at the hands of South American opposition and their exit was arguably even harder to take. Aliou Cisse’s goal didn’t just concede a late goal, they bowed out on yellow cards.
Colombia’s 1-0 win saw them top the group but Japan and Senegal had the same number of points, goals scored and goals conceded (all four), while they had drawn 2-2 in their matchday two meeting.
However, Senegal became the first team in World Cup history to be eliminated on fair play, as they accrued more yellows (6-4) than their rivals for a last-16 berth.
Even more gallingly, it would have all been so different had they taken their chances in Samara. Senegal dominated the first half, completely nullifying the threat posed by Colombia’s much-vaunted attack. Indeed, they didn’t even allow Radamel Falcao & Co. a single touch in their penalty area during the opening 45 minutes, while at the same time creating the better chances.
Sadio Mane ran rings around Mina only for the much-maligned Barcelona centre-back to have the last laugh. Senegal were, ultimately, victims of the narrow margins that decide games at the very highest level.
They needed composure in the final third but they didn’t offer any, while they were let down at the other end of the field by the team’s only Africa-based player. Goalkeeper Khadim N’Diaye could have done better as Mina leaped highest to score his fifth goal in 14 games for his national team. There will be regrets all round, though; N’Diaye shouldn’t be made the scapegoat for Senegal’s exit. They must also must also back and wonder how they failed to beat Japan, despite having created more than twice as many chances as their Asian opponents.
Colombia also deserve huge credit for the way in which they responded to the loss of their talisman, James Rodriguez, who hobbled off in the 31st minute. In the second half, they gradually gained control of what felt like a home game for the South Americans, given the presence of some 30,000 Colombians in Samara.
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