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Senegal storm into World Cup round of 16 after Ecuador win

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Kalidou Koulibaly celebrates his winner for Senegal. PHOTO/FIFA
  • Senegal beat Ecuador 2-1 in their last group match
  • They finished second in the group
  • They are the first African team to confirm their place

Senegal became the first African country to confirm their place in the round of 16 at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar after edging out Ecuador 2-1 at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on Tuesday evening.

This is only the second time that Senegal have made it through to the round of 16 at the World Cup ever.

The victory took the Lions of Teranga second in Group A, behind Netherlands who beat hosts Qatar 2-0 in the other fixture played concurrently. They dedicated the win to former player Pape Bouba Diop whose anniversary of his passing was the same day.

Chelsea FC defender Kalidou Koulibaly scored the winner in the 70th minute, juts two minutes after Moses Caicedo had cancelled out Ismaila Sarr’s opener for Senegal.

Senegal came into the match needing a win at all costs to enable them progress to the round of 16. After pressing and dominating most of the opening exchanges, they broke the deadlock a minute to halftime when Ismaila Sarr scored from the spot.

Sarr takes responsibility 

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Ismaila Sarr celebrates Senegal’s win. PHOTO/FIFA

Sarr took responsibility on his shoulders after he had been hacked inside the box by Piero Hincapie, he stepped up and with the coolest of nerves sent the keeper the wrong way for the opening goal.

Before that, Aliou Cisse’s charges had dominated the game and as early as the third minute, they had their first chance.

A good interchange of passes saw Idrissa Gana Gueye sent through in the area, but his eventual snap shot went inches wide off target, kissing the outside of the net.

They had another great chance at goal when Youssouf Sabaly sent Boulaye Dia through on goal with a peach of a through pass. However, the lanky forward slashed his shot inches wide.

Ecquador struggled to break into the Senegal area and all through the opening 40 minutes only managed one touch inside the Lions of Teranga box.

In the second half, they however started off with a strong footing as they sought even a draw, which would have been enough to send them through.

The pressure bore fruit in the 67th minute when Caicedo swung the ball home unmarked at the backpost after a corner was flicked to his direction.

Senegal respond in similar fashion

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Senegal players dedicate the win to Papa Bouba Diop. PHOTO/FIFA

Senegal however responded in almost similar fashion. Skipper Koulibaly, who had taken over the captainship in the absence of the injured Sadio Mane, volleyed the ball home unmarked after a defensive header from a Gueye freekick saw the ball move in his direction.

The goal was all Senegal needed and they were now in cruise control.

The last minutes made for some nervous ending as Ecuador piled the pressure seeking just one goal to sail them into the next round.

However, Senegal defended with heart and coach Cisse made changes, pulling out a striker for a defender in a move to try and add numbers at the back.

They managed to hold on to the win and progress to the knockout phase, where they will face off with the winners from Group B. England look most likely to top the group as they sit at the apex with six points, pending their last match against Wales on Tuesday night.

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