Kalidou Koulibaly’s goal sends Ecuador home, advancing Senegal.
Senegal beat Ecuador 2-1 at Khalifa International Stadium to go to the round of 16.
Senegal won the Group A winner-take-all match owing to Ismaila Sarr’s penalty and Kalidou Koulibaly’s goal three minutes later.
The defending champions finished second in Group A behind the Netherlands and will play the winner of Group B — England. England is the favourite but Iran or the USA might potentially beat them.
Senegal win after Koulibaly’s goal
Senegal lost to Japan in the round of 16 at Russia 2018, but they won in Qatar.
Watford winger Sarr scored a penalty soon before halftime to put the African champions ahead. Senegal spent much of the first half driving Ecuador back, but Brighton’s Caicedo equalised early in the second after a corner.
Senegal retook the lead two minutes later from a set piece by Chelsea’s Koulibaly.
Senegal started and finished the game well. They started fast and could have led 2-0 in 10 minutes. When they needed to defend well to advance, they didn’t give Ecuador a clear shot.
Ecuador’s slow start costs
Ecuador, under Argentine coach Gustavo Alfaro, are strongest when breaking swiftly, but they failed to play on the front foot against Senegal.
A draw would have advanced the South Americans, but they were content to contain and try to score on the break. After giving up two clear chances in the first 10 minutes, they allowed Senegal 10 shots in the first half — more than in their previous two group stage games combined.
After Sarr’s penalty, they only came back after Senegal dozed asleep at a set piece.
Ecuador were ranked second-lowest in South America before qualification began, behind only Bolivia. While it was an achievement to get here, there will be sadness in failing to advance out of a tough group, especially after positive early results against Qatar and Netherlands.
Senegal has nothing to lose in round 16
Senegal is without Sadio Mane but has enough talent to concern anyone in the final rounds. Edouard Mendy is one of the world’s top goalkeepers, and Chelsea’s Koulibaly and RB Leipzig’s Abdou Diallo have Champions League experience.
Alio Cissé’s team allowed just two goals en route to winning the Africa Cup of Nations and five in eight qualifying games for Qatar. Their challenge will be scoring early without Mane, and squandering two good chances today may be cause for concern, but they won’t fear anyone in the next round.
Senegal is good in penalties, so watch out in knockouts. Both the AFCON final and World Cup qualification were decided on penalties. They don’t have a regular goal scorer but rarely concede, so it may come down to penalty kicks.
Player ratings (1-10).
Hernan Galindez, Felix Torres, Pervis Estupinan, Piero Hincapie, Angelo Preciado, Moises Caicedo, Carlos Gruezo, Alan Franco, Gonzalo Plata, Michael Estrada, Enner Valencia 5.
Jeremy Sarmiento, Jose Cifuentes, Djorkaeff Reasco, Jackson Porozo.
Edouard Mendy, Ismail Jakobs, Youssouf Sabaly, Kalidou Koulibaly, Abdou Diallo, Idrissa Gana Gueye, Pape Gueye, Iliman Ndiaye, Pathe Ciss, Ismaila Sarr, Boulaye Dia.
Bamba Dieng, Nampalys Mendy, Pape Abou Cisse 6th.
Senegal’s midfielder stopped Ecuador’s counterattack and dominated midfield. After a yellow card, he’ll miss the next game.
Ecuador’s great attacker was a spectator all night and dived to send out Youssouf Sabaly.
Sarr’s confidence helped Senegal score a first-half penalty.
Caicedo’s equaliser sent Ecuador through…
Koulibaly won it for Senegal in just three minutes.
After the game, Ecuador coach Gustavo Alfaro was told by players and management, “Well done.” “It’s tough. We’re angry. Our blunders cost us the game. This makes us sad because we hoped to continue down this road. Our current pain is enormous. We lost a two-year-old dream that these people built. But we must remember our past successes.”
Koulibaly: “This is for the family of Papa Bouba Diop, who scored a 1-0 win against France in 2002 and died two years ago today. We wanted to honour him. He inspired my childhood dreams.”
Ismaila Sarr scored Senegal’s second World Cup penalty. Khalilou Fadiga scored against Uruguay in 2002.
– It was Sarr’s first Senegal goal since Jan. 30, 2022, against Equatorial Guinea.
– Africa has converted 18 of 20 World Cup penalty kicks.
– Ecuador allowed 10 shots in the first half, more than in their previous two group stage games combined.
Ivan Kaviedes scored for Ecuador in the 2006 group stage against Costa Rica before Moises Caicedo.
– Senegal’s Kalidou Koulibaly scored in his 66th game. Koulibaly, 31, becomes Senegal’s oldest World Cup scorer.
– Caicedo and Koulibaly’s goals were the fastest between opposing teams in this year’s World Cup. Senegal hasn’t reached the round of 16 since 2002. Last time, coach Alio Cissé captained the team.
More in Sports: https://buzzing.today/sports/
Photo Credits: https://www.espn.com/