By Adam Marshall
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Bruno Metsu's team, who virtually all ply their trade in France's Championnat, went ahead when Papa Bouba Diop capitalised on some catastrophic defending to plunder a gift goal.
The exciting El Hadji Diouf had raced past Frank Leboeuf down the left flank, and his centre was struck by Emmanuel Petit against his own keeper Fabien Barthez, with the ball rebounding kindly for Diop to net, and gleefully perform a crazy celebration with his team-mates around the corner flag.
Most of the crowd probably still expected Les Bleus to hit back and prove their superior quality, even despite the absence of the talismanic Zinedine Zidane.
However, the African Cup of Nations finalists showed their mettle, and, in truth, had only a few frights before the final whistle signalled the greatest moment in their footballing history.
A tepid opening had seen Senegal match their illustrious opponents for endeavour and purpose, with Diouf's tame header the first goal attempt of the game.
At the other end, David Trezeguet fired a poor shot wide, after a cross from Lilian Thuram, but, despite the threat of Sylvain Wiltord down the right, the World Champions had little to offer in terms of attacking ideas.
Diouf's barnstorming run allowed the equally impressive Khalilou Fadiga to prod a shot goalwards, which Barthez saved, to fire a warning to the favourites.
It looked as though France were finding their rhythm when Barthez's long pass fed Trezeguet, and Tony Sylva had to race out of his goal to snuff out the threat posed by the Juventus striker.
Trezeguet went closer when he shot against a post, after taking a touch to steady himself, after Petit and Thierry Henry carved the Senegalese defence open. Sylva was well beaten by the effort.
Just past the half hour mark, the unthinkable happened. Diouf skinned the ageing Leboeuf for pace and, after confusion between Petit and Barthez, Diop was on hand to profit from the French folly.
Youri Djorkaeff had a couple of attempts, and Wiltord and Leboeuf also had shots on goal, but Senegal comfortably held firm until half time.
The only booking of the first half came when Petit felled Diouf, after some more examples of neat skill by the slippery Lens forward.
Aliou Cisse became the second name in Ali Bujsaim's book when he clattered into Marcel Desailly, but there were no other cautions despite the effort and rugged determination produced by the Africans.
Trezeguet's header from a Thuram cross, and Henry's wasteful attempt from Wiltord's centre, summed up Roger Lemerre's side's day.
A double save by Sylva on 58 minutes kept out Djorkaeff and Trezeguet, and the Monaco keeper also kept out Patrick Vieira's header from a corner.
Both sides then rattled the woodwork in the space of a minute.
Firstly, the outstanding Fadiga embarked on a fabulous run, leaving Leboeuf in his wake, and his rasping drive whistled past the flying Barthez, but clipped the bar.
Henry went just as close at the other end, seconds later, when his precise curler beat Sylva but also bounced off the bar.
Trezeguet and Desailly were off target from corners, and Leboeuf had two shots kept out by Sylva as time ran out for France, who clearly lacked Zidane's inspiration.
In injury time, Henry had a last-gasp chance to save face for Lemerre's men, but the Arsenal striker was denied by the determined Sylva at his near post.
The final whistle allowed Senegal to celebrate the biggest result of their footballing lives, and the inquest into the French side's failings will begin in earnest.
France: Barthez 5; Lizarazu 6, Thuram 7, DESAILLY *8, Leboeuf 4; Vieira 6, Djorkaeff 6 (Dugarry 60m,5), Petit 5, Wiltord 6 (Cisse 81m,6); Henry 6, Trezeguet 5.
Senegal: Sylva 8; Daf 6, P.M.Diop 7, Coly 8, Diatta 8, Cisse 8; Fadiga 9, N'Diaya 6, Diao 7, P.B.Diop 7; DIOUF *9.
To view a match summary and stats, click on the relevant link below
Click here to see our artist's impression of the goal.
To see reaction from the Senegalese camp, click here
To see reaction from the French camp, click here