Doha: Senegal have qualified for the Round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup Qatar, beating Ecuador 2-1 in a thrilling match to finished as runners-up in Group A, behind Netherlands.
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.
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.
“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,” Senegal coach Aliou Cisse said.
“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.”