Yerry Mina’s second-half header secured Colombia a 1-0 win against Senegal in their final Group H game and a place in the last 16 of the World Cup.
Defender Mina headed home Juan Quintero’s 74th-minute cross in a game of few chances as Colombia finished top of the group and sent Senegal crashing out of the tournament.
Senegal needed only a point to progress to the knockout stage, but defeat in Samara coupled with Japan’s 1-0 loss to Poland sees the Africans exit the tournament courtesy of an inferior disciplinary record.
Colombia, who needed to win after recovering from their opening 2-1 defeat to Japan by beating Poland 3-0, were not at their best, but Senegal failed to make their early dominance pay.
The Africans are the first team to be knocked out of a World Cup on the fair play rule having finished level on points, goal difference and goals scored with Japan.
Colombia were first to threaten through Quintero’s free-kick, which was well saved by Nigeria goalkeeper Khadim Ndiaye.
Senegal were quicker to settle into any kind of rhythm though and only a brilliant last-ditch tackle from Colombia defender Davinson Sanchez denied Sadio Mane a clear scoring chance.
Serbian referee Milorad Mazic initially deemed Tottenham centre-half Sanchez’s challenge to have been a foul and pointed to the spot.
But after the incident was referred to VAR, replays clearly showed Sanchez had connected with the ball first and Mazic overruled his initial decision.
Colombia were dealt a blow in the 31st minute when James Rodriguez, who missed his country’s opening defeat to Japan due to a calf injury, was withdrawn and replaced by Luis Muriel.
The first half remained goalless at half-time and the Colombia fans raised the decibels in a bid to lift their side, who continued to struggle to find the form they had produced against Poland.
Los Cafeteros did show more urgency, but Radamel Falcao was offering little in the final third and Senegal were still a threat on the break.
Neither side had created a further goalscoring chance in the second period until Muriel’s 65th-minute shot was deflected for a corner, which Falcao headed tamely wide.
Colombia then appealed for a penalty when Ndiaye caught Muriel after racing out to clear the ball, but the Senegal keeper got to it first and referee Mazic was unmoved.
The South Americans, having done little to suggest they would break the deadlock, took the lead in the 74th minute.
Quintero swung over an excellent corner from the right and central defender Mina powered home an unstoppable header.
Senegal were all of a sudden facing a World Cup exit, level on points and goal difference with Group H rivals Japan, but heading out of the tournament because they had picked up more yellow cards.
Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina denied M’Baye Niang and Ismaila Sarr volleyed Mane’s cross over the bar from 12 yards, but it was too little too late for Senegal.
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