Everton’s third and last player at the World Cup finally played today and made an immediate impact as well. Midfielder Idrissa Gueye was a solid presence throughout the game, breaking up play and generally making a nuisance of himself in the middle of the park. His most important contribution though was a shot from outside the box that was deflected in to give Senegal the 1-0 lead over Poland in the last game of matchday 1 with every team in the global showcase now having played once each.
Gueye, occupying a similar position to where he plays with the Toffees, had enjoyed a languid start to the game as the two evenly-matched teams traded chances. The Polish team led by star striker Robert Lewandoski might have enjoyed the better part of the early possession, but in the 38th minute the Lions of Teranga did well to build up play around the Polish box and Gana’s Merseyside rival Sadio Mane laid off the ball for him to fire at goal.
The shot may or or may not have been on target, but defender Thiago Cionek stepped in to block the shot and ended up deflecting it into the goal with goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny stranded. FIFA decided to chalk the strike down as an own goal, robbing Gueye of what would have been just his second international goal on his 56th appearance for the Senegal side.
What a deflection!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 19, 2018
Senegal take the lead after Idrissa Gana's shot gets deflected into the back of the net. pic.twitter.com/hYPtf0cNgu
Poland’s misery was compounded in the second half when the referee allowed M’Baye Niang, who has been linked with the Blues in the past, to come back onto the pitch from an injury while the Polish team held the ball and he promptly cut in ahead of a terrible back pass from an unaware Grzegorz Krychowiak to steal away and score and put Senegal ahead 2-0.
Niang slips behind the defense to score Senegal's second goal of the day! pic.twitter.com/z7zJWiqxxz— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 19, 2018
Gueye ended up in the book for a crunching tackle on Krychowiak, going through the opponent in the center circle.
(Graphics courtesy of Stats Zone)
A late goal for the Polish made things more dramatic near the end, but it ended up with three hard-won points for the African nation looking to reprise their 2002 World Cup quarterfinal run.