Colombia is through to the World Cup round of 16 as a group winner, while Senegal is left on the outside looking in after being dumped out in unprecedented fashion.
Yerry Mina's 74th-minute goal was the difference in a 1-0 victory for Colombia, which shot Los Cafeteros to the top of Group H–even with James Rodriguez exiting with a 30th-minute injury. By virtue of a tie across the board in a number of tiebreakers, Senegal's World Cup is over because of fair play points–as a result of having more yellow cards than Japan in the group stage. It's the first time a nation has ever been bounced on that tiebreaker.
The two sides entered the match knowing that if there was a winner, it would be through, and if there was a draw, Senegal would go through. They also knew that if Japan lost, both would go through with a draw, and that's how it appeared it would be until Mina rose highest for Juan Quintero's corner kick.
The opening 10 minutes of the match were rather tame, given how dynamic both sides have proven to be at times during this competition. With neither side looking to open itself up to an early error that could put it to the sword, and with Japan scoreless early as well, much of the action remaind in the middle third of the field.
Colombia had the match's first chance 12 minutes in, after Radamel Falcao earned a free kick some 20 yards from goal. Quintero bent in a dangerous left-footed shot, bouncing right in front of Khadim N'Diaye, who managed to punch it to safety.
Senegal thought it had a penalty in the 17th minute, when Davinson Sanchez clattered into Sadio Mane as he broke through on goal in the box. The referee went to VAR and took a look on the replay, though, seeing that Sanchez's tackle was not penalty-worthy, letting Los Cafeteros and the Tottenham center back off the hook.
Colombia suffered a massive setback in the 30th minute, when James was forced out of the match with an apparent injury recurrence. James was reduced to only 30 minutes off the bench vs. Japan before playing the full 90 against Poland, but he had to be replaced by Luis Muriel after half an hour, with the match tied and Colombia out of the last 16 as things currently stood in both Group H finales.
Both teams received a dose of good news at around the hour mark. Poland's Jan Bednarek scored on a header off a free kick, putting Japan in a 1-0 hole and provisionally sending both Senegal and Colombia through to the round of 16.
Despite both sides being though at the moment, they still pushed for the winner that would secure their place for good. N'Diaye took a risk racing off his line for a slide tackle on Muriel in the 67th minute, but he got his timing right to both thwart the threat and avoid a penalty.
Colombia got its goal soon after, though. Off a corner kick, Mina scored his second goal of the competition, shooting Colombia to the top of the group and provisionally sending Senegal out.
Senegal, as was required, pushed for an equalizer, but on two occasions David Ospina came up big in goal to deny the Lions of Teranga, keeping Colombia in the top spot. As Japan, knowingly, played out the string and Poland acquiesced, Senegal needed an equalizer to keep its hopes alive, but never came, ending its run in never-before-seen circumstances on the World Cup stage.
For the result from the other simultaneous Group H finale between Japan and Poland, read on here.
Here were the lineups for both teams:
Here are the rosters for both sides:
Goalkeepers: Abdoulaye Diallo (Stade Rennes), Alfred Gomis (SPAL), Khadim Ndiaye (Horoya)
Defenders: Lamine Gassama (Alanyaspor), Saliou Ciss (Valenciennes), Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli), Kara Mbodii (Anderlecht), Youssouf Sabaly (Bordeaux), Salif Sane (Hannover 98), Moussa Wague (Eupen)
Midfielders: Idrissa Gueye (Everton), Cheikhou Kouyate (West Ham United), Alfred Ndiaye (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Badou Ndiaye (Stoke City), Cheikh Ndoye (Birmingham City), Ismaila Sarr (Stade Rennes)
Forwards: Keita Balde (Monaco), Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke City), Moussa Konate (Amiens), Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Mbaye Niang (Torino), Diafra Sakho (Stade Rennes), Moussa Sow (Bursaspor)
Manager: Aliou Cissé
Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Arsenal), Camilo Vargas (Deportivo Cali), José Fernando Cuadrado (Once Caldas)
Defenders: Cristian Zapata (Milan), Dávinson Sánchez (Tottenham), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Óscar Murillo (Pachuca), Frank Fabra (Boca Juniors), Johan Mojica (Girona), Yerry Mina (Barcelona)
Midfielders: Wílmar Barrios (Boca Juniors), Carlos Sánchez (Espanyol), Jefferson Lerma (Levante), José Izquierdo (Brighton Hove & Albion), James Rodríguez (Bayern Múnich), Abel Aguilar (Deportivo Cali), Mateus Uribe (América), Juan Fernando Quintero (River Plate), Juan Cuadrado (Juventus)
Forwards: Radamel Falcao (Mónaco), Miguel Borja (Palmeiras), Carlos Bacca (Villarreal), Luis Fernando Muriel (Sevilla)
Manager: Jose Pekerman