SAMARA: A powerful header from Barcelona’s Yerry Mina fired Colombia into the last 16 of the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Group H rivals Senegal, who crashed out due to a poorer disciplinary record than Japan.
Colombia and Japan will play either England or Belgium, who were playing later Thursday. The South Americans, looking to reach the latter stages after reaching the quarter-finals in Brazil, risked going out of the tournament at the first hurdle.
But after seeing the video assistant referee come to their rescue in a disappointing first half, Colombia were handed a last-16 lifeline 13 minutes from the end when Mina rose to meet a corner from the right and direct a header into the roof of Khadim Ndiaye’s net. Poland’s 1-0 consolation win over Japan meant the Asians finished level with Senegal, who were agonisingly eliminated because they were issued six yellow cards in the competition, two more than Japan.
In Samara, Colombia coach Jose Pekerman kept faith with the attacking front line that thumped Poland 3-0, with midfielders Juan Quintero, James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado providing the support for striker Radamel Falcao up front.
But by the end of an entertaining first half, Pekerman was forced to tinker when Rodriguez was forced off with an injury problem and replaced by Luis Muriel. Before then, Senegal had shown attacking potency but, all too often, failed to threaten David Ospina’s goal.