Poland make bad start
MOSCOW, June 19, (Agencies): Senegal recorded the first African win at the 2018 World Cup when they beat Poland 2-1 on Tuesday thanks to a deflected Thiago Cionek own goal and a terrible error by Polish ‘keeper Wojciech Szczesny.
West Bromwich Albion midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak got Poland back in the game with an 86th-minute header but Senegal hung on at Moscow’s Spartak Stadium.
In a match billed as a straight fight between super-strikers Robert Lewandowski and Sadio Mane, neither scored but Liverpool striker Mane set up Idrissa Gueye for the shot that took a wicked deflection off Cionek, leaving Szczesny totally wrong-footed in the Polish goal for Senegal’s opener on 37 minutes.
The west Africans doubled their lead on the 60-minute mark when the experienced Juventus goalkeeper had a moment to forget.
Krychowiak put Poland in trouble with a woeful bouncing back pass, but Szczesny opted rashly to charge out of his penalty area. The speedy Mbaye Niang got in front of his defender, nicked the ball away from Szczesny and rolled it into the empty net.
The goal sparked wild celebrations among the Senegalese players and incredulity among Poland’s.
After a tight first half hour, it was the always-threatening Niang who was at the heart of Senegal’s opening goal.
The Torino winger won the ball on the halfway line and fed Mane who rolled it sideways to Everton striker Gueye, whose shot skewed off Cionek’s leg and into the net.
Senegal, the 2002 quarter-finalists, could have pressed home their advantage two minutes later but Salif Sane failed to connect with a header.
Minutes after half-time, Sane was fortunate not to be sent off for a challenge on Lewandowski when he brought down the Polish striker as he charged towards goal. He escaped with a yellow card.
Lewandowski curled the free kick over the Senegal wall but Khadim Ndiaye — the only African-based player in Senegal’s squad — pushed it away.
Krychowiak connected with Kamil Grosicki’s cross to give Poland hope, but they were unable to make up the deficit despite four minutes of injury time.
On Sunday, Senegal play Japan, who beat Colombia 2-1 earlier in the day, while Poland will face the South Americans.
Meanwhile, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) has asked FIFA why the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was not used to review two key decisions they believe hindered their side during Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Switzerland.
Brazil players complained long and hard that defender Miranda was pushed by Steven Zuber when he headed home Switzerland’s equaliser early in the second half of their Group E opener on Sunday.
They also believe Gabriel Jesus was manhandled inside the penalty area and should have been awarded a spot kick.
Neither incident appeared to be reviewed.
“The CBF requires to know from FIFA the reason the technology was not used in key incidents during the game,” the organisation said in a statement.
VAR is being used in the World Cup for the first time and, according to FIFA, should only “correct clear and obvious errors and missed incidents in clearly defined match-changing decisions”.
Brazil believe the two incidents, neither of which they referred to directly, are covered by that explanation.
The technology has been used sparingly in Russia with only one major dispute, a penalty awarded to France against Australia that was initially turned down.
The penalty, which was scored by Antoine Griezmann, helped France to a 2-1 victory.
The sight of Tunisia defenders wrestling England’s Harry Kane to the ground in the penalty area without punishment during Monday’s World Cup Group G match has raised more questions about the worth of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
Ferjani Sassi wrapped Kane up in a bear hug and he fell to the ground late in the first half as the striker, who scored twice in England’s 2-1 win, tried to meet a corner.
Yassine Meriah grappled with Kane again in the second half to stop him moving in the penalty area.
Although referee Wilmar Roldan could be excused for missing the incidents in a crowded area, they must have been spotted by the Video Assistant Referee watching in a studio — according to Euro 2016 final referee Mark Clattenburg.
“Last night showed major inconsistency from the referee and video referee team. The referee wasn’t looking at the incident — which is normal as a lot goes on at corners — but the VAR not giving England a penalty retrospectively was a wrong call. It was a stonewall penalty,” Clattenburg said.
“Going forward in the tournament, FIFA needs to have a think about when it is going to intervene.
“We’ve seen lots of good decisions but the threshold for a clear and obvious foul seems very high.”
Grappling at corners has become endemic in the game but according to England’s former FIFA referee Graham Poll, it is one of the areas VAR was brought in to tackle.
“One of the things FIFA said that they would look to stop at this World Cup was defenders ignoring the ball at set-pieces to merely hold or block opponents,” he told the Daily Mail.
“The offences were so clear that I was surprised, and disappointed, that the Brazilian referee Sandro Ricci in the VAR studio in Moscow didn’t get involved. That’s why he is there.
“Ricci’s failure to do so was even more surprising given he’d awarded a penalty as the on-field referee in the Croatia-Nigeria match on Saturday night for the exact same offence.
“Fortunately, the result wasn’t affected but Pierluigi Collina, FIFA referees chief, must be talking to both the referee and the VAR operatives to ensure such foul play in the penalty area is punished in future.”
The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) has asked FIFA why VAR was not used to review Switzerland’s equaliser in their 1-1 draw on Sunday when it was clear defender Miranda was shoved by Steven Zuber before he headed home.