MOSCOW (Reuters) – Colombia’s Yerry Mina thumped home a second-half header to secure a dramatic 1-0 victory over Senegal yesterday evening that catapulted the South Americans into the World Cup last 16 and dumped their African opponents out of tournament.
Senegal had only needed a point in their final Group H game to reach the next round, but defeat saw them miss out to Japan, who edged them out of the runners-up spot by virtue of having a better disciplinary record.
It was the first time in World Cup history that two teams had been separated by the amount of yellow cards they had accrued in the tournament.
Both Senegal and Japan, who were beaten 1-0 by Poland yesterday, finished the group with four points and an identical record in all other respects. Yet the Asian side ended in second position having picked up four yellow cards to Senegal’s six.
Colombia, who finished as group winners with six points will face a last-16 match against the runners-up in Group G.
Defeat for Senegal eliminated them at the group stage in their first World Cup appearance since 2002, and left Africa without a representative in the knockout stages.
Those hopes looked forlorn, however, within minutes of kickoff at the Samara Arena as the forward was hit with one heavy challenge, which clearly took its toll, and he was withdrawn after half an hour having spent much of the intervening period ambling around the pitch.
His exit did little, however, to revive the sluggish South Americans, who had been second best in almost every department.
Chances throughout the game were thin on the ground, with Colombia striker Radamel Falcao heading off target in the 25th minute and again in the second half, while substitute Luis Muriel had an effort blocked. Yet Mina ensured Colombia were not made to pay when he headed home in the 74th minute.