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Colombia advance to World Cup knockout
stage as Senegal eliminated on fair play rule

SAMARA Russia (Xinhua) -- A 1-0 victory on Thursday ensured Colombia to advance to World Cup knockout stage as Group H winners while Senegal were sent packing on fair play rule.

With a lone goal from defender Yerry Mina in the second half at the Samara Arena, the South American country secured a spot in the last 16.

Senegal earned four points, leveling with Japan who lost 1-0 to Poland in the other group match. The result left Senegal eliminated because they received more yellow cards than Japan. The Teranga Lions became the first team that were knocked out by the fair play rule at the World Cup.

Colombia coach Jose Nestor Pekerman thought that the results reflected that Group H was “a very even group” and Senegal “had a very good tournament but went home”.

Colombia played a 4-2-3-1 formation in Thursday’s match and both sides did not create good chances in the first 10 minutes.

Radamel Falcao, Colombia forward, won a free kick in the 11th minute but Juan Quintero’s shot was saved by the Senegal goalkeeper.

In the 17th minute, Sadio Mane was brought down by Colombia defender Davinson Sanchez inside the box and Senegal were awarded a penalty. Following the VAR check, the referee reversed his decision and cancelled the penalty.

Colombia side made a replacement in the 30th minute, as James Rodriguez was forced off by injury. The Bayern Munich star made no attempts at the goal and only 10 passes.

During the last 15 minutes of the first half, Senegal launched fierce attacks and wasted a few chances.

Pekerman noted after the match that “there were some very worrying moments in the first half when Senegal played very well”, but the coach said Colombia “managed to defend successfully”.

Paces picked up in the second half, as Colombians emerged from the break with more attacking intents and broke the deadlock in the 74th minute with Mina’s goal.

Assisted by Juan Quintero with a cross following a corner, Mina made a header from the center of the box and scored.

Despite Senegal’s continuous attacks during the rest time of the match, they failed to level the score until the end.

Senegal coach Aliou Cisse told reporters that his team “did not deserve to qualify” based on their performance.

Regarding the way of elimination, Cisse said they had no choice but accepted it.

“Fair Play points are one of the rules and these rules have been established in the tournament regulations. We have to respect that. We would have preferred to be eliminated in another way but that’s the way it works and we knew that those were the regulations,” he said.

“I will continue to encourage them and to be with them because I think we can expect many more good things from them in the future,” he added.

After Senegal’s elimination, there will be no African team in the round of 16.

FIFA statistics showed that Colombia made 4 attempts at the goal throughout the match, while Senegal made 8. Ball possession was 57 percent for Colombia and 43 percent for Senegal.

In the last 16, Colombia will face England or Belgium on July 3.

A total of 41,970 spectators attended Thursday’s match at the 45,000-seat Samara Arena, among which Colombia fans outnumbered Senegal supporters by a large margin.



Colombian president celebrates securing last 16 spot at World Cup

BOGOTA Colombia (Xinhua) -- Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos passionately celebrated his country’s 1-0 victory over Senegal on Thursday, which ensured Los Cafeteros’ safe passage into the knockout stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

A video showing the president’s euphoric reaction to Yerry Mina’s 74th minute goal was shared widely on social media.

The president watched the game with his son, Esteban, and military forces commander, Alberto Mejia, alongside over 500 soldiers at a military base in Tolemaida.

Speaking ahead of Thursday’s game between England and Belgium, which Belgium later went on to win, the president said, “We’re ready for our next opponents. We finished first and we’re proud. We’re going to see who it is, Belgium or England, but whoever it is, we’ll keep going.”

Santos also sent a message to the national team via his twitter account, saying “We’re in the knockouts! Thanks, guys @FCFSeleccionCol. You’re the pride of the nation! COME ON COLOMBIA!”

Colombia will play England in the second round on Thursday 3rd July, after the Three Lions lost their final group game against Belgium 1-0.



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