Home Football FIFA World Cup: Senegal qualifies for knockouts after win over Ecuador

FIFA World Cup: Senegal qualifies for knockouts after win over Ecuador

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Needing a win to guarantee its spot in the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup, Senegal did just that, securing three points in a 2–1 victory over Ecuador to finish second in Group A.

A 2–0 win by the Netherlands over Qatar that was never in doubt from early on meant that the final knockout spot would come down to Ecuador and Senegal. While Senegal needed a win, or a draw and help from Qatar, La Tri simply needed a draw to advance after earning a point in its game against the Netherlands. But Senegal proved to be the better, more composed side in the Group A finale.

An Ismaïla Sarr goal from the penalty spot took the pressure off Senegal in the 44th minute. But Ecuador answered back in the second half behind a Moisés Caicedo goal in the 67th minute. Yet Senegal didn’t let it linger, scoring just 90 seconds later with Kalidou Koulibaly’s winner.

The Netherlands will now face the runner-up from Group B while Senegal will face the Group B winner.

Senegal got off to an energetic start with a flurry of chances in the first 10 minutes. In the third minute, fullback Ismail Jakobs sent a dangerous cross that slowly rolled across the box until it found Idrissa Gueye wide open in front of goal, but the Everton midfielder sent his shot just wide in a massive missed opportunity.

Minutes later, Boulaye Dia followed that chance with one of his own, taking a short pass into the box and squaring up the keeper before sending his shot just beyond the post.

In the 26th minute in the other Group A game between the Netherlands and Qatar, Cody Gakpo scored for the Oranje to give them a 1–0 lead. A Netherlands win would mean that Ecuador would go through to the knockouts with a win or a draw, while Senegal could go through only with a win.

Sarr earned a critical penalty in the 43rd minute with a perfect touch in the box before an Ecuador defender clattered into him. The Watford forward stepped to spot and calmly finished to give Senegal the 1–0 lead, a result that would have seen the side through to the knockouts.

In the 49th minute of Netherlands vs. Qatar, Frenkie de Jong doubled the Oranje’s lead with a goal, which all but guaranteed the Netherlands’s spot in the knockout stages.

In the 67th minute, Ecuador scored the equalizing goal behind Caicedo’s goal. At 1–1, a draw would have been enough to send La Tri through to the knockouts.

But just 90 seconds later, Koulibably leveled things for Senegal once again off a free kick as the Chelsea defender latched onto a pass across the box. It was the center back’s first goal for his country, and it came at one of its biggest moments.

The Group A standings finished with Netherlands atop the group on seven points, Senegal with six points, Ecuador with four points and Qatar on zero points.

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