Colombia advances while Senegal is eliminated by tiebreaker

  • Jun. 28, 2018 11:55 a.m.

SAMARA, Russia — Yerry Mina leapt high above defenders to score on a header in the 74th minute and Colombia defeated Senegal 1-0 on Thursday to advance to the World Cup knockout stage. Senegal became the first team ever eliminated by a new tiebreaker — number of yellow cards.

Poland defeated Japan 1-0 in the other group match. Japan and Senegal were tied on all tiebreakers except “fair play points,” based on yellow and red cards. Japan had four yellow cards, Senegal had six.

Colombia, which reached the quarterfinals four years ago in Brazil, finished atop its group and is the fourth South American team to advance. Senegal’s elimination means all five African teams are eliminated.

Colombia and Japan go on to face opponents from Group G — either England or Belgium, who play later Thursday.

Japan and Senegal were even on points, goal difference, goals scored, and they tied in their head-to-head meeting. If FIFA had not added the fair play tiebreaker for this World Cup, the two teams would have had to draw lots to determine which would advance.

Colombia is the only team in Russia to lose its opener — 2-1 to Japan — and make it to the round of 16. The Colombians appeared as to regain form with a 3-0 victory over Poland. James Rodriguez, the Bayern Munich star who was a substitute in the team’s opener because of a calf injury, set up two goals in that match.

But Colombia’s hopes appeared diminished when Rodriguez was replace by Luis Muriel because of an apparent injury in the 31st minute against Senegal. Teammate Radamel Falcao patted him on the back sympathetically as he headed to the sideline.

Rodriguez returned to the team bench in the second half, in time to see Mina’s header that gave Colombia the lead.

Mina, 6-foot-5 (1.95 metres), leapt above a pair of Senegalese defenders to head the ball hard off the ground and off Senegal goalkeeper Khadim Ndiaye’s hand, sending the enthusiastic Colombian fans at Samara Stadium into a frenzy.

Senegal kept trying to get a goal that would have sent it to the next round, but Colombia defended well. Japan, content with a 1-0 defeat to Poland in the simultaneous match, was stalling because it would advance if the scores remained the same.

Video review was used in the 18th minute when Colombia’s Davinson Sanchez tackled charging forward Sadio Mane. The referee originally gave Senegal the penalty kick, but the review went in Colombia’s favour.

Carlos Sanchez returned to Los Cafeteros after sitting a one-match suspension of a red card just three minutes into the opener. Sanchez received criticisms and a death threat, which is being investigated by Colombian authorities. It referenced the murder of Colombian defender Andres Escobar following an own-goal at the 1994 World Cup.

Senegal opened the tournament in Russia with a 2-1 victory over Poland and followed that with a disappointing 2-2 draw against Japan.

Senegal’s last appearance in the World Cup came in 2002, when the team reached the quarterfinals. Current coach Aliou Cisse was the captain of that squad.

This is the first time since 1982 that no African teams have advanced from the first round.

ALREADY WOUNDED: Colombia midfielder Abel Aguilar was unavailable after he was injured and taken off the field on a stretcher in the first half against Poland. Mateus Uribe took his place in that match and started against Senegal.

Coach Jose Pekerman would not say when or if Aguilar might return during the tournament, but said the left adductor injury was not as serious as feared.

GROUP DYNAMICS: The Colombian fans were well aware of what their team needed to assure a spot in the knockout round: A win. They joined in unison to sing “Let’s go Colombia, tonight we have to win” to start the second half, momentarily drowning out the enthusiastic Senegalese drummers. Attendance was announced at 41,970.

KEYS TO SUCCESS: Rodriguez’s departure was a blow to Colombia but Mina came through with his second goal in Russia.

FOUR YEARS AGO: Thursday was the anniversary of Colombia’s 2-0 victory over Uruguay at Maracana Stadium in Brazil that sent Los Cafeteros into the quarterfinals. Rodriguez scored both goals, including one that was voted goal of the tournament.

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