Poland coach Adam Nawalka said it was “kind of curious” how M’Baye Niang reentered the pitch to score the decisive goal in Senegal’s 2-1 victory on Tuesday.
An own goal by Thiago Cionek late in the first half preceded the appalling defensive mix-up that let Niang score into an empty net on the hour.
Nawalka had sympathy for his team over the second goal as Grzegorz Krychowiak looped a high-risk 50-yard back pass straight into the path of Niang, who was then presented with an open goal after keeper Wojciech Szczesny rushed outside his box but failed to reach the ball.
The coach said the players had been surprised that Niang was allowed to re-enter the fray after having treatment and that his players had not been aware he had slipped back on.
“It was kind of curious. We were in possession, I’m convinced they didn’t see the player coming off the sidelines,” Nawalka said. “Wojciech tried to save the situation but he didn’t manage it. We were very surprised, there was a lot of misunderstanding about it.”
Nawalka struggled to explain his team’s off-key display as they produced a lethargic, error-ridden performance in a game they had high hopes of winning.
“I don’t think any excuse is good enough for the first half,” Nawalka said. “There were many different elements that contributed to the poor performance. We weren’t aggressive enough, the wingers didn’t do a good job and neither did the midfield. We weren’t dynamic or coordinated. We did do better in the second half — but not enough.”
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