Samara: Colombian central defender Yerry Mina scored the only goal in their final Group H fixture against Senegal as the African side became the first team in history to be eliminated by virtue of the fair play rule.
Colombia’s win ensured they finished their group stage campaign with six points, enough to secure the top berth in Group H, and with Poland already eliminated, Senegal and Japan were the two teams still in contention for the second spot.
With Japan also losing by a goal to Poland, the deciding factor was down to the number of yellow cards accumulated by the two teams, as both Senegal and Japan were tied on four points, and were level on goal difference, goals for and goals against.
The six bookings to Senegal’s name, compared to Japan’s four ensured that latter became the only Asian side to qualify into the knockout stage of the FIFA World Cup 2018.
In Samara, the referee pointed to the spot in the 17th minute after Sadio Mane was brought down inside the box by Davinson Sanchez. However, after consulting the Video Assistant referee, the decision was overturned.
Several half-chances fell both teams way throughout the first half with neither managing to convert them into a goal. The breakthrough came half an hour into the second half from a corner when Mina rose the highest to prod the ball beyond Khadim N’Diaye in the Senegal goal, his second goal in the World Cup.
That goal ended up being the winner, with M’Baye Niang coming close in the dying minutes with his fierce shot that was tipped over the bar by David Ospina.
Meanwhile, Japan required a draw against already-eliminated Poland to progress through after they beat Colombia and drew with Senegal in their previous two matches. However, Jan Bednarek’s goal from a free kick made for a nervy finish for the Blue Samurais.
A lackluster first half featured few chances as both teams lacked the precision in the final third to pose a meaningful threat.
However, Bednarek did not need a second chance to convert from close range after he was picked out by a Rafal Kurzawa free kick.
The result posed elimination threat to Japan, although Colombia’s win against Senegal ensured they progressed on their disciplinary record.
Along with Colombia, Japan will await England’s clash against Belgium as the winner of that match will finish top of Group F and face Japan, with the other set to face Colombia in the round-of-16.
However, a draw between England and Belgium will see the group topper being decided on the fair play rule as both teams are tied on six points, eight goals scored and two goals conceded. (ANI)