World Cup 2018: Colombia snatch top spot in dramatic Group H finale | FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 | DW | 28.06.2018
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World Cup 2018

World Cup 2018: Colombia snatch top spot in dramatic Group H finale

Colombia finished top of Group H after Yerry Mina's second goal in as many games sent Senegal crashing out of the World Cup on account of their poor disciplinary record. Japan progressed despite a 1-0 loss to Poland.

Senegal 0-1 Colombia
                    (Mina 74')

Yerry Mina's header secured Colombia a 1-0 win over Senegal in Samara on Thursday to clinch their safe passage to the last 16 as they finished top of Group H, while Senegal missed out to Japan on a fair-play tiebreaker.

There was little to split the two teams in a first half bereft of chances and, with both sides World Cup campaigns on the line, neither wanted to be the first to make a mistake. Following 74 minutes of tense football though, Mina stooped to score the crucial goal from a corner, his second in as many games. 

Senegal, who had most of the better play in the first half, became increasingly desperate knowing they needed to score to keep themselves alive in the competition. However, the last remaining African side failed to produce the game-changing moment, meaning the knockout stages will not feature a side from the continent in 36 years.

Japan lost to Poland in the group's other fixture. However, with both Japan and Senegal having the same number of points, goal difference and goals scored, it came down to disciplinary record to decide the runners-up. Japan progressed with two fewer yellow cards than the African side.

Japan 0-1 Poland (Bednarek 60')

Japan became the first-ever side to book their place in the knockout stages of a World Cup courtesy of the fair play table after their 1-0 loss to already-eliminated Poland. 

The Blue Samurai squeaked into the Round of 16 by the narrowest of margins after Jan Bednarek scored the only goal of the game shortly before the hour mark, beating his marker at the far post to volley in a swirling free-kick from Rafal Kurzawa.

Japan hung on for dear life in the closing stages, but it mattered little to their fans in Volgograd, who cheered despite the loss after confirmation their team reached the knockout stage for the third time.

Below you can relive the action as it happened:

FULL TIME! What an end to Group H! Colombia finish top after beating Senegal, who themselves have been knocked out on account of having picked up two more yellow cards in the group stages than Japan. Skin of your teeth stuff for the Blue Samurai. Heartbreak for Senegal. Such fine margins. 

First time in 36 years there won't be an African side in the knockout stages of the World Cup.

90+3' - Senegal keep pumping the ball long hoping something will happen, but they keep giving the ball away at the vital moment. Seconds remain!

90+2' - Colombia are almost there as a tame Colombian header sails harmlessly wide of the target.

90' - Four minutes added on. Meanwhile, in the other game Japan are 1-0 down and wasting as much time as possible!

89' - Falcao is coming off and taking as long as he can to exit the field of play. How many minutes will be added on?

87' - Here's how things stand:

  • If Poland score again, Japan are out.
  • If Japan get a red card, they are out.
  • If Senegal equalise against Colombia, Japan are out.

86' - Senegal have sent on another attacker on in the form of Diafra Sakho. This is desperate stuff from Senegal.

84' - Muriel runs for the corner flag, working hard against Koulibaly and Sane. However, he has no one in support. Vital seconds off the clock though. 

82' - Senegal just need one goal to stay in the World Cup. Why do I feel like I wrote that this time yesterday? Oh yeah, Germany!

81' - Sarr breaks past two markers on the right wing, gets a good ball into the box, but Mane's shot is blocked. It almost fell for him. 

80' - WHAT A MISS!

Senegal are throwing men forward including center back Kalidou Koulibably. Sadio Mane sends in a cross which picks out Sarr, unmarked at the back, who fires over with a first-time volley. This is going to be a long 10 minutes.

78' - FYI. 

76' - SAVE!  

There's a real sense of urgency about Senegal now as Ismaila Sarr stings the palms of David Ospina. There is still plenty of time for a lot to change in this group.

74' - GOAL! Senegal 0-1 Colombia (Mina 74')

The roof has been lifted off the stadium in Samara. Colombia celebrate as Yerry Mina heads home at the front post, his second goal in as many games. Textbook. Heart break for Senegal. Colombia go top for now. Japan are in second. Senegal are out!

73' - The question now is whether these sides will shut up shop. Colombia could still break Senegalese hearts.

71' - Do we have a twist in the tale in store for the final 20 minutes? Niggling injuries are causing lots of delays right now. Not that either will mind. Right now they're both going through.

69' - PENALTY SHOUT!

Luis Muriel chases a ball over the top from Colombia but Senegal 'keeper Khadim N'Diaye rushes out, gets the the ball first and then clatters the striker. It's definitely not a penalty.

66' - Colombia get a free-kick of their own down the other end. The delivery wreaks havoc in the area as the loose ball falls to Luis Muriel. His shot is blocked behind for a corner, which results in Falcao heading wide. 

64' - Niang and Mane both stand over the ball as the wall gets sorted. Mane takes it, but slips at the vital moment as he balloons the ball over the bar. Untimely to say the least. 

62' - I wonder if news has filtered through to the teams in Samara. Sadio Mane is brought down by Sanchez on the edge of the area.

60' - GOAL! Japan 0-1 Poland

Colombia are handed a lifeline. Polish defender Bednarek has just turned Group H on it's head, getting on the end of a cross to put Poland ahead. As it stands Senegal and Colombia will go through.

59' - Both sides are defending rather frantically when the ball nears their own area.

56' - This is starting to turn into a end-to-end affair with both teams getting desperate. Tensions are high. There's everything to play for as Falcao is stopped in his tracks by Salif Sane.

53' - James Rodriguez is prowling the sidelines and barking the occasional order out to his teammates a la Cristiano Ronaldo for Portugal in the EURO 2016 final.

50' - Falcao has been rather anonymous in this encounter, but Colombia are trying to get him on the ball more.

47': Colombia have picked up where they left off in the second half. They're enjoying a lot of possession whilst producing very little end product.

Half time: With Colombia needing a win to go through (unless Japan win against Poland), you would have thought that they would have done more to try to get a goal. As it turned out the Colombians had more of the ball (55 percent posession), but Senegal had two attempts on goal to their one. The loss of James Rodriguez just after the half hour mark is a major blow to the Jose Peckerman's men. Senegal go through with a draw, so they will have been happy with their lot after the first half. 

45'+3': Mr. Mazic blows his whistle to end what wasn't a particularly exciting half of football. 

45'+2': Cuadrado with a long throw into the Senegal box, but if fails to cause any trouble. 

45'+1': Three minutes to be added on.

45': Mojica gets a yellow card for a foul on Ismaila Sarr.

42': Falcao finds himself at the top of the Sengal area, but he's in traffic and can't get a shot off. He loses the ball and winds up committing a foul trying to get it back.

39': Johan Mijica is caught in the heel and takes some time to get back onto his feet.

38': Saif Sane wastes the opportunity, though, firing it way over the Colombian crossbar.

36': Sanchez pushes Mane in the back just outside of the Colombian box. Free kick from a decent position for Senegal.

34': More than half an hour in, Colombia have had almost 60 percent of the ball, but Senegal have also had a couple of decent chances. 

31: What a disappointment for Colombia, as James Rodriguez is coming off, apparently due to injury. Muriel comes on.

29': Colombia coach Jose Peckerman prepares to make an early change. Looks like  Luis Muriel is about to come on.

27': The Senegal attackers are causing the Colombians some trouble. Keita Balde's shot is easily caught by Ospina in the Colombian goal.

25': He puts it into the box this time, but a teammate heads it off target.

24': Gana steps on Quntero's toe, another free kick for Colombia, another chance for Quintero to go for goal?

23' Counterattack from Senegal, but Sabaly's attempted cross goes harmlessly into touch.

18': The referee is having a look at the replay. Milorad Mazic reverses his original call. NO PENALTY for Senegal!

17': Penalty for Senegal!

11' Falcao's down after a collision with a couple of Senegalese players, but he's quickly back on his feet. Free kick from a good position for Colombia. Juan Quintero's shot is pushed around the post by the Senegal keeper. 

9': Free kick for Senegal from well out, but it sails into the waiting arms of Ospina.

4': Four minutes in, there haven't been any incidents of note, with both teams content to feel each other out in the initial phase.

1': Sadio Mane kicks off for Senegal to get us underway in Samara!

15:55: And the starting XIs in Volgograd:

15:50: Here's how Senegal and Colombia line up...

15:45: Hello everyone. Welcome to live coverage of the final round of Group H matches, with Colombia and Senegal in action for a place in the knockout stages. .

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