There was some controversy surrounding Senegal’s second goal – Niang had just re-entered play after an injury
Niang was waved back onto the field by the officials and immediately joined the attack, with the Poles seemingly unaware
Grzegorz Krychowiak attempted a lofted back pass from the Senegal half which left the defence exposed on 61 minutes
Niang immediately ran onto the back pass and scored – Poland were incensed, however the goal stood and was the winner
It was another defensive calamity which gave Senegal their second, Mbaye Niang tapping home on the hour
Niang intercepted the ball and rounded Szczesny to give Senegal all three points in their Group H opener
Szczesny reacts as Jan Bednarek chases back fruitlessly, while Niang prepares to tap in Senegal’s second goal
There was another passionate celebration by the Senegal players as they took an unexpected lead against the Polish
Nothing in their history will perhaps ever equal their humbling of holders France on the first day of the 2002 World Cup, but 16 years on and Senegal have been quick to make their mark in Russia.
This was a turn up in Moscow, that’s for sure. Poland – led by their record-breaking striker Robert Lewandowski – began this tournament as the eighth ranked team in the world. To see them humbled like this was strange indeed.
The bare bones are that both teams were dreadful in the first half only for Senegal to lead thanks to a shot from Everton’s Idrissa Gana Gueye that was going wide until it struck Poland’s Thiago Cionek and ricocheted in to the goal.
Senegal took the lead towards the end of the first half when Thiago Cionek deflected a shot into his own goal
Krychowiak headed in from a free kick with four minutes to play however it was too little, too late for the poor Poles
Poland (4-3-2-1): Szczesny 4, Piszczek 5.5 (Bereszynski 81, 6), Pazdan 6, Cionek 5, Rybus 5.5, Blaszczykowski 5 (Bednarek 45, 5), Krychowiak 6, Zielinski 6, Grosicki 6, Milik 6.5 (Kownacki 73, 6), Lewandowski 6
Unused subs: Jedrzejczyk, Goralski, Linetty, Bialkowski, Teodorczyk, Glik, Peszko, Kurzawa, Fabianski
Goal: Krychowiak 86
Booking: Krychowiak 12
Senegal (4-4-2): K N’Diaye 6.5, Sabaly, 7 Koulibaly 8, Sané 7.5, Wague 7, Gueye 7, A. N’Diaye 7 (Kouyate 88), Diouf 7 (Ndoye 60, 6.5), Mané 6.5, Sarr 7, Niang 7.5 (Konate 74, 6)
Unused subs: Diallo, Mbengue, Mbodji, Sow, Kouyate, Konate, Sakho, B. N’Diaye, Balde, Gassama, Gomis
Goals: Cionek og 37, Niang 61
Bookings: Sane 49, Gueye 72
Referee: Nawaf Shukralla (BHR) 7
Star Man: Kalidou Koulibaly
That was a poor goal to concede by the Poles but the one they gave Senegal on the hour was even worse. As the game began to benefit from a little more cohesion, Poland were pressing for parity.
But a wild pass back in to his own half by West Brom’s Grzegorz Krychowiak was intercepted by Mbaye Niang as he was waved back on to the field after an injury.
Poland defender Jan Bednarek clearly didn’t see his opponent arriving on the blindside and for him we can feel a little sympathy. But what former Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was doing dashing thirty yards from goal to try and intercept was anybody’s guess.
It was a decision that effectively ended the game as Niang nudged the ball past the goalkeeper and scored in to an empty net. Szczesny – No 2 at Juventus these days – has never seemed quite good enough for international football and here was the evidence.
Poland, facing disaster, pressed hard but could only score once, Krychowiak heading in from a free-kick with five minutes left.
Senegal hung on in a game that had improved markedly and would now appear to be set for an adventure through this World Cup to rival that which enthralled us in Japan and Korea.
Cionek looks dejected after scoring the own goal which gave Senegal the lead in the Group Ha clash in Moscow
The Polish centre back got himself in a muddle and could only inadvertently direct an effort into his own net
There was a huge contingent of Polish fans in the Spartak Stadium, and they got an ideal view of their side conceding
Wojciech Szczesny is left completely helpless after a shot by Idrissa Gana Gueye is deflected into the back of his net
While their opening goal may have been lucky and scrappy, Senegal did not care as they wildly celebrated the strike
Senegal are playing at a World Cup for the first time since their debut tournament in 2002 and made an instant impact
After five days of engaging and watchable football, this was the game that threatened to finally buck the trend. Probably the best thing about it early on was the atmosphere and that was largely because most of Poland seemed to be here.
This would have been a good day to be a burglar in Warsaw, but the massed ranks of red and white stationed all round this great modern stadium could not do anything to spur their team on during a first half that was high on effort and low on quality. Certainly the goal that separated the teams at the break summed everything up.
Senegal are a physically powerful team that sometimes lack subtlety. The way that Niang beat Lukasz Piszczek to the ball down the left side in the 38th minute was impressive. He was second favourite when the ball dropped.
Niang then fed the ball infield to Sadio Mane and when the Liverpool forward eased it onwards to Gueye, space opened up ahead of him.
Just 20 yards out, Gueye had the whole goal to aim at but pulled his shot badly to the left. The ball almost certainly would have gone wide of the goal but when Cionek waved a foot at it, the Polish defender deflected it horrifically past goalkeeper Szczesny and in to the centre of the net.
NO DEFENCE FOR THE POLISH OVER NIANG
Sportsmail columnist and former World Cup referee Graham Poll gives his view on the second Senegal goal:
Senegal enjoyed some good fortune when scoring their second goal as the match officials allowed Niang onto the field of play at a key point after he had been off for treatment.
However, it was only seen as giving them an advantage as the defending by Poland was so poor.
First Krychowiak played a sloppy pass back towards goal and then Bednarek allowed the ball to run which Niang ran onto and beat Wojciech Szczesny who was well out if his penalty area.
Referee Nawaf Shukralla could have been seen as unwise to wave Niang on but I really felt it was down to poor defending rather than a refereeing error.
There were Senegal supporters here, most clad in bright green, red and yellow, and their drums and horns ensured that we could hear them too. It was Poland who had traveled in hope. though, and that was just one of the things that made their display so disappointing.
There were some sporadic moments of progress, most notably down the left side where Hull City’s Kamil Grosicki was often the willing outlet, but service to centre forward and captain Lewandowski was almost non existent and that was hurting Poland enormously.
For their part, Senegal were keen and at times progressive. Mane struggle to make a direct impact but was an outlet who often drew men towards him in order to leave space for others.
With a little more composure on occasion, Senegal could have benefited from that. Niang – who plays for Torino – was a threat when he ran directly and he could have done better than play the ball against a defender when trying to square it for Stoke’s Mame Biram Diouf early in the game.
Poland enjoyed more possession but Senegal at times looked the more dangerous side. With all African teams beaten so far in this World Cup, it became clear here that this was Senegal’s chance to leave their mark.
Inevitably, Poland did improve. They had to. Above all they had to get Lewandowski in to the game. Scorer of a record 16 goals in qualifying, only one team mate had fewer touches than him in the first half.
He won a free-kick with a darting run early in the second half and took it himself, bringing a rather flashy save from Khadim Ndiaye with a strike towards the top corner. At last, Poland had made the Senegal goalkeeper work.
For the first 15 minutes of the second half the Poles were improved. When Maciej Rybus crossed from the left in the 56th minute, Piszczek may have done better than volley tamely wide at the far post. A goal then and you would have fancied the Poles to complete the job. Instead they self-combusted on the hour.
Krychowiak attempted to make up for his fatal error with a well-placed header on 86 minutes, but it was not enough
The former West Brom midfielder immediately returns to the restart after scoring, however Senegal held on to win
As always for an African team at the World Cup, the Senegal fans brought brilliant colour to the stands at the tournament
The Senegalese supporters sang and danced throughout the match – and even more so as their team went on to win
Poland manager Adam Nawalka was left dejected as his side – Group H’s top seeds – were completely outplayed
With Niang beckoned back on by the referee at the halfway line, he clearly was not seen by substitute defender Bednarek. By the time Niang had appeared on the Southampton player’s blind side it was too late and as Szczesny dashed stupidly from goal the Senegal player was able to nudge it beyond him and side foot it in to an empty goal.
On the touchline Senegal coach Aliou Cisse – once of Birmingham City and Portsmouth – danced for joy. With half an hour left to go, his team were in touching distance of a real turn up.
For Poland disaster beckoned but it was only what they deserved. There will be little sympathy for Szczesny, either. He gloated on social media after Juventus knocked Tottenham out of last season’s Champions League, even though he didn’t actually play. It was a classless act that now seems even more ill-advised following his efforts here.
Adam Nawalka’s team were impressive qualifiers but were poor here. Arkadiusz Milik steered a low cross from Piszczek wide of the near post with twenty minutes left before Lewandowski came close with a header from eight yards.
Then, with just five minutes left, West Brom’s Grzegorz Krychowiak reached a deep free kick at the far post to head back across Ndiaye and in to the far corner to give Poland some late hope. In the end, that hope came to nothing.
Poland were very limited in the number of chances they made, Kamil Grosicki heading over in the first half
Robert Lewandowski endured a disappointing afternoon, scuffing a volley in the first half which summed up his match
Lewandowski also came close from a free kick in the second half, however it was well saved by the Senegal goalkeeper