Senegal became the first African side to win points at this World Cup on Tuesday, courtesy of a dominant performance against a turgid Poland in Moscow.
The Europeans were poor throughout, though, fully deserving of defeat after a lifeless and timid showing.
The Poles had been mooted as potential dark horses for the showpiece with only four sides scoring more in European qualifying.
Senegal, however, were just too organised and too clever for Adam Nawalka’s charges, with goals from Idrissa Gueye and M’Baye Niang stirring memories of the country’s heroes from 2002.
Here’s how the players fared:
Wojciech Szczesny – 3/10
The Juventus keeper had nothing to do in the first half, save for picking the ball out of his own net. He had a disaster in the second, tumbling out of goal unnecessarily to try to intercept a hopeless back pass. M’Baye Niang got there first and duly punished him.
Thiago Cionek – 4/10
The naturalised centre-back could do nothing about the deflected opener which careened into the net off his foot. He struggled to contain an intelligent Senegalese back line and looked uncomfortable with the ball at his feet.
Michal Pazdan – 4/10
A no-nonsense performance from the Legia Warsaw man who seemed desperate to boot the ball into touch at every opportunity. A desperate lunge in the build-up to Senegal’s opener caused unnecessary confusion amongst his teammates.
Lukasz Piszczek – 5/10
The Dortmund man is past his best and it showed against Youssef Sabaly. The Senegalese had him on the back foot throughout although Piszczek recovered in the second half to provide some useful crosses.
Maciej Rybus – 6/10
Quiet in the first half, his crosses from the left proved potent in the second. Served up a delicious chance for Piszczek at the back-post, with a looping ball finding its mark expertly.
Piotr Zielinski – 5/10
The Napoli star endured a frustrating first half, blunted in his attempts to energise the Polish midfield. For much of this fixture, he was too deep to offer anything meaningful in attack. A dreadful cross-field ball after 68 minutes summed up a wasteful performance.
Kamil Grosicki – 6/10
Knitted a few decent passes together but was largely innocuous until providing the assist for Krychowiak’s late goal. His free-kick from the right was superbly crafted.
Grzegorz Krychowiak – 3/10
How the mighty have fallen. One of Unai Emery’s first signings at Paris Saint-Germain, a difficult year on loan to West Brom gave way to a horror show at the Spartak Stadium. A deftly-executed header doesn’t quite forgive his mistake for Senegal’s second with a needless hook back to the goalie being leapt on by Niang.
Kuba – 3/10
The former Dortmund man began the afternoon in celebratory mood, after winning his 100th Poland cap. By halftime, he was distraught, hauled off with injury. In the event, he struggled to influence proceedings.
Arkadiusz Milik – 5/10
A torrid two years of injury have robbed Milik of his impetus. Judging by Tuesday’s evidence, the Napoli forward still has a ways to go before reaching his best. Milik showed cute movement to latch on to a Piszczek pass at the near-post, only for his instinctive finish to flash just wide.
Robert Lewandowski – 4/10
Robert Lewandowski’s first game at a World Cup was a damp let-down. The Bayern striker was marshalled fluently by the Senegalese defence who took the necessary action to chop him down after he broke away briefly at the start of the second half. The 29-year-old was ineffective throughout.
Jan Bednarek – 4/10
The Southampton centre-back came on for Kuba at halftime and failed to react quickly enough after Niang broke through for the second. Looked off the pace.
Dawid Kownacki – 6/ 10
The Sampdoria star came on for Milik in the second half, doing well to latch onto a Rybus’ cross. His header bobbled safely into the hands of Khadim N’Diaye.
Bartosz Bereszynski – N/A
Thrown on for the last eight minutes as Poland scrabbled for an equaliser. Not enough time to make an impact.
Khadim N’Diaye – 7/10
The 33-year-old might have expected more difficulty from a front line boasting the likes of Milik and Lewandowski. Instead, only a free-kick from the latter threatened his goal. The Horoya FC stopper dealt with the effort superbly, punching to safety.
Moussa Wagué – 6/10
Senegal’s right back got forward well in support of the attack, although Rybus found too much time and space against him in the second period.
Kalidou Koulibaly – 7/10
A calming and assured influence at the heart of his defence, Koulibaly contained Lewandowski easily, enhancing a reputation that is already burgeoning rapidly.
Salif Sané – 7/10
The Hannover centre back should have scored just before halftime, heading wide from an unmarked position in the box. He was too sharp for Arkadiusz Milik at the Spartak Stadium, nixing him totally save for one half-chance in the second half.
Youssef Sabaly – 8/10
A persistent nuisance at left wing back, stymying Lukasz Piszczek’s dangerous attacking runs. The Bordeaux star careened into his opponent’s half with menace, sending several decent deliveries into the penalty area.
Ismaila Sarr – 8/10
A pulsating performance from the Rennes’ star, who made his way to Brittany after a promising start at Metz’ Senegalese feeder club. He dovetailed superbly with Wagué and left Poland unsettled by his direct running throughout.
Sadio Mané – 7/10
The Liverpool star was less central than many might have expected, eschewing his terrorising runs on the wing to probe more quietly in the middle of the park. Retained the ball well throughout.
Idrissa Gueye – 8/10
A deflected finish was heading wide before being deflected off Cionek but it was the cap on an efficient performance from the Everton man. Was his usual bustling self, dominating Krychowiak and Grosicki totally.
Alfred N’Diaye – 7/10
The quiet man of a blaring Senegalese performance. Got the ball, then got rid of it with a minimum of fuss. Job done.
M’Baye Niang – 9/10
Some of his lustre might have faded since leaving Milan but Niang was at his best here. Poland simply couldn’t handle him. Showed superb anticipation to charge down Krychowiak’s back-pass, grabbing the goal that his performance deserved.
Mame Biram Diouf – 7/10
The former Manchester United star worked hard throughout, even if the ball didn’t land kindly for him in this fixture. Replaced late on by Moussa Konaté.
Cheikhou Kouyaté – 6/10
The Senegal captain didn’t start this fixture but he came on in the second half to deliver a tidy and unfussy cameo.
Moussa Konaté – 6/10
The Amiens forward has enjoyed a sumptuous year in Ligue 1 and is likely to depart for a bigger club in the summer. He didn’t have much opportunity to impress here, replacing Diouf as Poland pressed for an equaliser.
Cheikh N’Doye – 5/10
An earnest showing from the second half substitute.
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