In a thrilling group climax, a Poland goal in Volgograd was sending both teams in Samara to the last 16, but Yerry Mina's 74th-minute header provided a decisive twist, ensuring Jose Pekerman's men triumphed and Senegal, by virtue of their yellow-card tally, were ousted. "We didn't qualify because we've earned more yellow cards, but I'm proud of my lads, they've worked hard for this tournament and I think we've showed we can have a bright future".
Colombia, which played in the quarterfinals four years ago in Brazil, finished atop the group and is the fourth South American team to advance, joining Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil.
The Colombians were forced into an early change and brought on Luis Muriel for James Rodriguez on 30 minutes.
With so much at stake for every team and simultaneous matches of Japan vs. Poland and Colombia vs. Senegal set for Thursday, Group H looks set to provide a thrilling finale to the group stage of the tournament.
While some fans from other African nations will have been supporting Colombia in their game against Senegal, so as not to see their one of their rivals doing well, the Lions of Teranga were flying the flag for the continent at the World Cup.
Colombia is through to the World Cup round of 16 while Senegal has been eliminated because of a harsh yellow card tiebreaker.
Shortly before the start of the World Cup, FIFA announced a change in their rankings system, with a cumulative count rather than average, that will prevent the ability of nations to manipulate their standings - as Poland did ahead of the tournament in Russian Federation.
Colombia will face the runners-up of Group G, either England or Belgium, who face off later on Thursday and whose ranking will also be decided via fair play should they draw.
With Senegal and Japan both on four points, Colombia and Senegal could both progress with a draw but only if Japan lose to Poland.
Colombia midfielder Abel Aguilar was unavailable after he was injured and taken off the field on a stretcher in the first half against Poland.
Rodriguez's departure was a blow to Colombia but Mina came through with his second goal in Russian Federation. Goalkeeper Khadim N'Diaye could have done better as Mina leaped highest to score his fifth goal in 14 games for his national team.