- Senegal progress from Group A with a victory over Ecuador
- Aliou Cisse’s side are runners-up behind Netherlands and will play the winner of Group B in the Round of 16
- Ecuador, who started the day in second place, are eliminated
Ecuador 1-2 Senegal | Group A
Goals | Ecuador: Moises Caicedo (68′) Senegal: Ismaila Sarr (P 44′), Kalidou Koulibaly (70′)
Senegal have qualified for the Round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
The Lions or Teranga have finished as runners-up in Group A, behind Netherlands, having won games against hosts Qatar and now Ecuador in what was a tense but thrilling match.
Senegal showed signs of their attacking prowess early on, with Ismaila Sarr working himself into a shooting position only to have his shot spun around the corner of the post.
It was Sarr who would be presented with the perfect opportunity to open the scoring again when he was flattened in the box by Piero Hincapie. From the spot, Sarr was the coolest player on the pitch, rooting goalkeeper Hernan Galindez to the spot.
Midway through the second half, Aliou Cisse watched his side turn defensively motionless as Moises Caicedo temporarily put a stopper in Senegalese celebrations. A corner, tipped on by Felix Torres, found Caicedo completely unmarked in front of the Senegal goal; the midfielder presented with the easiest task to score.
However, it was the third dead ball scenario that would prove the decisive one. Idrissa Gueye’s corner kick was bundled around by a host of Ecuadorian bodies and resulted in Kalidou Koulibaly, storming in at the far post, swiping the ball past Galindez and sparking the most deafening of celebrations in the stands.
Late pressure from Ecuador didn’t pay, as Senegal progressed to the Round of 16 for the first time since their World Cup debut in 2002.
Key moment: Koulibaly reignites Senegalese party
Just moments before Koulibaly crashed in the winning goal, Senegalese fans had their heads in their hands.
It seemed as though Caicedo’s poked finish had taken the wind out of Senegal’s sails, and the famously vibrant Lions of Teranga supporters were starting to think it might not be their year after all.
However, the noise and jubilation that erupted from the stands, the dugout and the pitch when the defender stole in at the back post to steer in a loose ball was the sound of a party well and truly started.
Stat of the Match
Senegal have never played England, Wales or USA in any men’s football competition or friendly. The Lions of Teranga will face one of these sides – or Iran, who they have only ever played twice – in the next round.
Player of the Match
Kalidou Koulibaly, Senegal
Aliou Cisse, Senegal coach: “I would like to dedicate this victory to a man who is doing extraordinary things for the country, who is unfortunately not here today. This man is called Sadio Mane.”
“We know that we are moving to the knockout stage, which is completely different from what we are used to playing in these types of [group] matches. Everyone is a good team, the best teams in the world that are competing. Therefore, we need to be prepared to come up against any side.”
Gustavo Alfaro, Ecuador coach: “I am in pain over this defeat. We all are. It is a hard blow. It is a big frustration that we are feeling. We knew that details could make all the difference and unfortunately that’s what happened in this match.
“Unfortunately we made mistakes in the decisive match,” Alfaro said, after watching his team concede a penalty to Senegal then switch off at the back for the second goal against.
“This leaves us with a bad feeling because we wanted to go through and stay on this road we had been following. The pain that we all feel right now, which Ecuador is feeling, is a huge pain.”