It was a weird end to the Group H games as Senegal bowed out of the World Cup in spite of putting in tactically astute performances through all three games – one mistake against Colombia and two late yellow cards in stoppage time against Japan costing them a place in the knockouts. With Senegal’s elimination, the African participation in the World Cup is also over, but Japan carry forward Asia’s challenge even though they lost 1-0 to Poland at Volgograd. Japan took a huge gamble in the final ten minutes to see out the game without attempting anything hoping that Senegal do not equalize, and Poland allowed them to cruise through that period without any challenge. Colombia, who started the World Cup with a devastating loss have expectedly topped the group although they were subpar for the majority of the ninety minutes tonight and will face either of Belgium or England in the Round of 16.
This is the first time since 1982 that an African side has failed to reach the last sixteen of a World Cup tournament.#SEN the first side to be eliminated by the fair play rule. pic.twitter.com/Jb2LhvXaGJ
It's over for Senegal. Just like Nigeria, this African team is sent home in the final forty-five minutes of their group stage fixture. It is heartbreaking for their supporters, especially after such inspiring performances all throughout, but that is the cruel nature of this game.
Fulltime in Volgograd!
It's all over! Senegal can't find a goal and Colombia and Japan are through! At Volgograd, Japanese players celebrate as they get the news on their phones. Japan are the only Asian team to qualify for the last-16, while with Senegal's departure, the African challenge at the World Cup ends.
Prayers all around Volgograd as not all Japanese supporters are still aware of the match situation at Samara and the complicated disciplinary record rule on which the progress to the Round of 16 will be determined. Japan, meanwhile, are trying to run the time down without attempting much. This could turn weird if Senegal manage to score somehow.
85` Senegal 0-1 Colombia
Senegal are throwing the kitchen sink and more at the Colombian defence and are leaving themselves vulnerable at the back.
Japan have to go for it and are piling on the bodies forward. That is opening up spaces behind them which Poland could exploit but the European side is content to sit back and defend. The Japanese have had a couple of corners in quick succession but nothing fruitful has come off it.
71` Senegal 0-0 Colombia
The pressure has come off Colombia as news has trickled in Poland's goal. The fans in the stands look a bit relieved and the Colombian attack is suddenly looking like it will make things happen - crosses are suddenly finding their man and through balls are dissecting the Senegalese defense.
65` Senegal 0-0 Colombia
Golden opportunity for Colombia to go ahead. Quintero swings in a free-kick from the right. Falcao can't connect his header but Senegal can't clear. Muriel is first to the ball and shoots towards the bottom corner. Koulibaly is in the right place to block his shot.
63` Senegal 0-0 Colombia
Senegal get a free-kick within striking distance of goal as Carlos Sanchez bundles over Mane. Mane takes the free-kick, but does a John Terry his shot balloons over goal.
Japan are trailing! It's a perfect setpiece from Poland and Jan Bednarek scores with a volley past Kawashima changing the course of this Group H. The Japanese defence had switched off for a moment and paid dearly. Unless Japan find an equalizer, Senegal and Colombia will go through if it remains goalless at Samara.
60` Japan 0-1 Poland
That goal is a hammer-blow to Japan. With the Senegal-Colombia match headed towards a draw, Japan are in third position.
59` Jan Bednarek gives Poland the lead!
Poland lead for the first time and it is thanks to a smashing volley from Bednarek.
Senegal's tactics have been on point and it remains to be seen how they fare in the knockouts should they progress. They haven't allowed Colombia to dominate in and around the penalty area, closing in spaces quickly, not letting Cuadrado and Falcao to influence play. Senegal could face either England or Belgium should things remain the same at Samara depending on the result later tonight. Either way, it would be a tactically intriguing contest.
It's still a snoozefest at Volgograd. The only notable moment of the half so far has been Okazaki's injury-forced substitution. Poland are defending in numbers and have tried to counter on certain occasions here and there, but without much success.
YELLOW CARD !
50` Senegal 0-0 Colombia
Mbaye Niang is booked for a high challenge on Yerry Mina. It's a blow for Senegal as he'll miss their Round of 16 match if they qualify.
47` Japan 0-0 Poland
Japan are forced into making a change as Shinji Okazaki gets injured. Yuyo Osaka replaces him.
Second half begins!
Here's to hoping that we get some goals in the second half.
Take a look at the stats from the first half between Senegal and Colombia.
Take a look at the stats from the first half between Japan and Poland.
Half Time – It’s goalless at both Volgograd and Samara with Japan and Senegal likely to progress to the Round of 16 at this point unless Colombia takes charge of their fate in the next forty-five minutes. Chances have been hard to come by in both games and the goalkeepers easily dealt with whatever was thrown at them. Japan and Senegal have avoided risks, with the African nation putting in a solid shift at the back. Any initiative from Colombia will infuse life into this set of matches, otherwise, the spectators at both stadiums are in for another dull period of forty-five minutes.
HT! Senegal 0-0 Colombia
Goalless at halftime in Samara. As things stand, Senegal and Japan will move to the next round. The Senegalese defence have been very good today against Radamel Falcao and co. Colombia need to step things up in the second half if they want to get past the Senegalese defence.
45` Senegal 0-0 Colombia
It is half-time in the match between Japan and Poland and it looks like it will be the same in Samara too. Three minutes of added time for either side to change that.
43` Senegal 0-0 Colombia
This has ben an impressive performance by the Senegalese defence tonight. Colombia have barely had a touch inside the box. As the match goes on, Colombia will crank up the pressure and one hopes Koulibaly and co can stay strong.
38` Senegal 0-0 Colombia
Mojica injures himself while giving chase to Mane. Quintero sprints over to Pekerman on the touchline and has an animated chat with his coach. Wonder what's that about.
Poland almost get a goal through Kamil Grosicki but it hits the inside of the post after Kawashima does well with a low save on his right and deemed not to have crossed the line by goal-line technology.
As it stands, Japan and Senegal will go through
30 minutes up and it is still goalless in both matches. As it stands, Japan will top Group H ahead of Senegal due to their better fair play record.
The Latin American sides have been uncharacteristically poor this summer and Colombia are continuing the trend tonight. They have mostly allowed Senegal to cruise with Sadio Mane being allowed to roam freely around the box. Sooner rather than later, Colombia will have to pay for such an attitude on the ball.
30` James Rodriguez subbed off!
Huge moment in the match as Rodriguez is replaced by Luis Muriel. The Bayern man looks very upset about it. Commentators opining that he might not have fully recovered from his injury. He doesn't look at Pekerman as he comes off and walks straight down the tunnel.
27` Senegal 0-0 Colombia
Senegal with two good chances to take the lead within a minute's span. First Balde looks to curl one in after some good work from Mane down the left. His shot is straight at Ospina. Then Ismaila cuts inside from the right and shoots. It's a weak shot and Ospina collects.
24` Senegal 0-0 Colombia
Quintero swings another dangerous free-kick and Falcao gets on the end of it. From 10 yards out, Falcao can only head the ball over the bar. You would expect Falcao off all people to head the ball on target. Offside flag up anyway.
23` Senegal 0-0 Colombia
Idrissa Gana with an unintentional stamp on Quintero. Senegal players close down on the referee to ask him not to book Gana, who already has been booked in the tournament. The referee shoos them away and only has a chat with the Everton man.
Japan are getting in on the action with a few quick successive attacks. First, Shinji Okazaki heads wide after some excellent work from Nagamoto on the left flank. Then, Muto and Sakai draw a couple of saves off Fabianski.
18` Senegal lose penalty after VAR intervenes!
The referee is told to check the pitch-side screen by the VAR and he changes his decision. I think only once has the referee not change his decision after watching the replay on the screen. Almost as if he is pressured to change his decision.
16` Davinson Sanchez brings Mane down in the box!
Penalty to Senegal as Mane, who was through on goal, is brought down by Davinson. VAR is having a look at it though.
14` Senegal 0-0 Colombia
Senegal attack from the left with Balde and Niang. The ball is squared to Mane who's on the edge of the box. He plays a first-time pass but it is too long for Balde and Colombia clear.
Preview: After throwing away their lead twice in the last game, Senegal will now have their task cut out when they take on Colombia in a decisive Group H clash.
The west Africans could have ensured their passage to the round of 16 in Sunday's second group match against Japan but after playing out a 2-2 draw, they now need a draw to advance. However, if Colombia win, they will advance at Senegal's expense if Japan avoid defeat against Poland in Volgograd at the same time.