The cruel way Senegal were knocked out in Russia

Senegal have suffered the cruellest exit from the World Cup imaginable after a series of events and history went against the African side in their final match with Colombia.

The South Americans topped Group H thanks to Yerry Mina’s header in a 1-0 win over Senegal that sent the African side out of the World Cup by virtue of their fair play record – the first nation to exit the tournament by the method.

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Both teams were on track to move into the knockout stages with 16 minutes remaining in Thursday’s clash at the Samara Arena, due to Japan trailing 1-0 to Poland in Volgograd.

But Mina – also on target in Colombia’s win over Poland last time out – proved the matchwinner for his side with a superb late header that was celebrated in style with a choreographed team dance.

Japan qualify in second place from Group H despite losing to already eliminated Poland and finishing level on points, goals scored and goals conceded as the Senegalese.

Heartbreak for Senegal after a cruel exit from the World Cup. Pic: Getty

However, Senegal’s six yellow cards compared to Japan’s four sees the Africans eliminated.

Compounding Senegal’s pain was the fact they had a first-half penalty ruled out following a VAR review.

Colombia’s key man James Rodriguez was substituted before the break and could be a doubt for the knockout rounds.

Group G’s top two England and Belgium await Colombia and Japan in the last 16, with Senegal unfortunate to be knocked out by the slimmest of margins.

M’Baye Niang missed an early opportunity but the opening exchanges were cagey before referee Milorad Mazic awarded Senegal a penalty in the 17th minute.

After consulting VAR, Mazic judged defender Davinson Sanchez to have won the ball before making any contact with Sadio Mane.

Colombia were struggling to gain a foothold and they were dealt a blow after half an hour.

Star player James, who won the Golden Boot at the last World Cup, was substituted with what appeared to be a recurrence of the injury that kept him out of Colombia’s 2-1 loss to Japan.

News of Jan Bednarek’s goal for Poland gave a lift to fans of both Colombia and Senegal as the tension levels in Samara continued to rise.

Mane’s slip as he took a free-kick in the 64th minute, the Liverpool forward sending the ball wildly off-target, summed up the lack of quality in the match.

Kalidou Koulibaly got a vital touch on a Luis Muriel drive to deflect the ball narrowly wide as Colombia threatened to turn the group on its head.

And in the 74th minute Colombia scored the decisive goal of the game, Juan Quintero’s cross perfect for Barcelona defender Mina to rise highest and crash home a stunning header that went through goalkeeper Khadim N’Diaye.

Senegal knew they were heading out and responded well to Mina’s goal, Ismaila Sarr missing a fine chance after being picked out by Mane.

Colombia settled for their one-goal lead and, despite growing increasingly desperate and frantic in the closing minutes, Senegal could not force in an equaliser to keep them in the World Cup, their fair play record giving them an unwanted piece of history.

Colombia celebrate the win that sees them top Group H. Pic: Getty

The World Cup’s round of 16 will feature zero African teams for the first time.

Senegal were the last African nation to be eliminated from Russia 2018 on Thursday, missing out on a place in Group H’s top two to Japan due to an inferior fair play record.

Not only did Senegal become the first team to be knocked out by the newly introduced method, their 1-0 loss to Colombia ended Africa’s participation in the tournament.

At every World Cup since the introduction of the last-16 stage in 1982, at least one team from the continent has qualified from the group stage.

European teams dominate the line-up for the second round, with 10 of the remaining 16 nations in the competition playing in the UEFA region.

South America has provided four qualifiers from the group stage, with five-time winners Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay all still in the tournament.

Japan are Asia’s sole representative, while Mexico are the only team left from the CONCACAF nations who made it to Russia 2018.

With Omnisport