Senegal, Colombia share draw
HAMILTON, New Zealand: Colombia inched towards a last 16 with a point against Senegal, though know that they should have left with more than the 1-1 draw and already be secured a place in the FIFA U-20 World Cup knockout stages.
The African side were the better in the early exchanges and got just reward thanks to a fine goal from Mamadou Thiam, but Alexis Zapata ensured they stayed ahead of their opponents in Group C with an equaliser from the penalty spot.
Senegal rarely troubled Portugal in their opener, having fallen behind inside 30 seconds, but they looked a different side as they entered this encounter. Dictating the play and leaving Colombia looking isolated going forward, they were in control. Clear-cut chances though were limited, with Sidy Sarr and Moussa Wague trying their luck from range.
It was a moment of individual magic that did earn them their breakthrough at the midway point of the half. With his back to goal on the edge of the area, Thiam’s quick feet saw him skip and slalom past three defenders before stroking a left-footed shot into the bottom left corner. In truth nothing more than they deserve.
Colombia only burst into life once the ball was in the Senegal net, however Santos Borre deflected Zapata’s free-kick beyond Sy from an offside position. The touchpaper had been lit though and were level before the break. Zapata was clumsily brought down by Mouhameth Sane and the talented midfielder brushed himself off to score the perfect Panenka penalty, shaving the bar as it went in.
Joao Rodriguez struck the outside of the post with a misdirected cross as chances were slim but he would get the best chance of the game handed to him as the match entered its final stages. A delightful roulette in midfield by Andres Tello opened up space to feed Juan Otero down the right wing. His perfect cross picked out Rodriguez, who confounded expectations by putting wide from four yards.
Sy almost threw the point away the dying seconds as he spilled a cross, but Sergio Villarreal couldn’t turn the lose ball goalwards. In truth the point only does so much for Senegal. They now face an all-or-nothing meeting with the already Qatar, while Colombia know a point against the already-qualified Portugal will guarantee them a place in the last-16.