Senegal, the first African team to achieve that feat in Qatar, defeated Ecuador 1-2 in a Group A match on Tuesday to advance to the knockout round of the 2022 World Cup.
Senegal needed to win in order to advance from Group A’s knockout rounds due to the Netherlands’ convincing victory over Qatar; Ecuador would have advanced with a draw.
Ismaila Sarr’s penalty gave Senegal the lead late in the first half. However, after keeping Ecuador captain Enner Valencia quiet the entire time, Moises Caicedo of Brighton tied the score in the 67th minute before Koulibaly put Senegal through and Ecuador home.
Idrissa Gana Gueye of Everton slashed the ball just wide of an open goal after only three minutes. Senegal manager Aliou Cisse had pledged before the game that his veteran team “would not overthink” the situation.
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A counterattack that was well outside of his area was stopped by Ecuador goalkeeper Hernan Galindez less than a minute later in order to save his team’s high backline.
Senegal’s Boulaye Dia found himself one-on-one with Galindez at the ten-minute mark, but he sliced the ball just wide of the post.
Senegal’s aggressive opening appeared to have given Ecuador the impetus it needed to advance and win a free kick 30 yards from the goal. The South Americans took advantage of the opportunity for a rare break before Valencia blasted the ball into the wall.
Following the frenzied opening exchanges, both teams settled in, and it appeared that the first half would end scoreless till Ecuador defender Piero Hincapie collided with Sarr, forcing referee Clement Turpin to gesture to the spot.
Galindez was out of position when Sarr stepped up and calmly converted a good spot-kick while keeping eye contact with him.
Ecuador entered the second half with renewed energy and vigor, possibly comforted by the Netherlands’ victory over Qatar, which meant they only needed a draw to advance.
Following a free kick, Caicedo smashed the ball home at the far post after defender Felix Torres rose high to head the ball on to him.
Lions of Teranga responded quickly and almost identically, with Koulibaly lying unnoticed at the far post after a free kick that Hincapie deflected in his direction.
Gueye, who entered the game with a caution, was issued a second-half booking and will be unavailable for Senegal’s matchup with the Group B winners in the round of 16.