An own goal and a catastrophic misunderstanding saw Poland slump to a 2-1defeat against Senegal in Moscow to shake up Group H of the World Cup on Tuesday.
Thiago Cionek deflected a first-half shot by Idrissa Gana Gueye into his own net, while three players were at fault for a second on the hour by Mbaye Niang.
A poor back pass from inside the Senegal half by Grzegorz Krychowiak had substitute centre-back Jan Bednarek hesitate for a split second. That was enough for Niang to race to the ball first as keeper Wojciech Szczesny rushed out of his area, and the Torino forward was able to tap into an empty net.
Krychowiak made amends with a header from a free-kick by Kamil Grosicki in the 86th minute, but the goal came too late.
After Japan beat 10-man Colombia 2-1 earlier in the day, it leaves Poland, one of the top seeds in the draw, next playing Colombia in a battle for survival.
Senegal, back at a World Cup for the first time since reaching the quarter-finals in 2002, have again begun with a victory as they did 16 years ago by beating reigning champions France.
The win was fully deserved against a Poland side which was poor for much of the game, with captain and goal-getter Robert Lewandowski starved of any decent service.
“I think Senegal won thanks to discipline,” coach Aliou Cisse said. “We had a very compact team and were very aggressive. We managed to create difficulties for them.
“They did have higher possession but every time they made a mistake we could hit them to force them back. We wanted to push them out of their comfort zone and this is what we did well in the first half.”
There was a suggestion Poland were caught out unfairly for the second goal when Niang came back onto the pitch after he had been at the touchline while Senegal were about to bring on Cheikj Ndoye for Mame Diouf.
Several Polish players appeared to query the issue with Bahrain referee Nawaf Shukralla, but officials had waved Niang back on and the goal stood.
“When I came back on I saw a ball going back towards the Poland defence and felt there was a shot to be taken,” Niang said. “There was some luck involved with the first goal but today we deserved it and were able to seize this opportunity when it was given to us.”
Poland coach Adam Nawalka said Senegal’s second goal was “kind of curious”, with Niang coming back on when a substitution was also about to take place leading to a “big misunderstanding.”
“We were in ball possession and I am convinced Bednarek didn’t see the player who was coming from the sidelines,” he said.
Poland, back at the World Cup after a 12-year absence, were in truth bereft of ideas in the first half and could find no real answers after the break despite increased urgency.
The Polish defence looked uncertain from the start, although the goal they conceded in the 37th minute was down to misfortune, when after a move begun by Niang, Gueye’s shot from the edge of the area was deflected by Cionek past a flat-footed Szczesny.
Senegal had seen four fellow African sides – Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia – lose their opening match, and fared little better initially, but they had the matchwinner in man-of-the match Niang.
Lewandowski meanwhile never looked like adding to the 16 goals he scored in qualification, although had a free-kick comfortably parried by keeper Khadim Ndiaye.
“We weren’t aggressive enough and lacked quality,” Nawalka said. “Two goals following our mistakes were something we are very unhappy with and we will have to draw conclusions.”