Senegal’s Lions of Teranga booked their place in the round of 32 after a pulsating show which they staged against Ecuador.
The African soccer champions started the game on a high note, and did not sit back, nor backpedal, in their attacks against the shaky Ecuadorian’s defence.
It was the Lions of Teranga that first showed all the intentions to pull a goal when they started a flurry of attacks from flanks and at center of their opponents’ defence. It took the West Africans up to 44th minute to break the deadlock when their penalty appeal was granted after an Ecuador defender fouled Senegalese right inside the 18-yard box.
Sarr stepped up to take the spot, and he didn’t disappoint as he easily slotted the ball home past the hapless Ecuador showstopper. Both teams went to the first half break with Lions of Teranga having a solitary goal lead advantage over their South Americans counterparts.
The South Americans talisman, Ember Valencia, who plies his trade in English side, West Ham United, didn’t have any realistic chance to pose a threat to the disciplined Senegalese back four.
It took slight lapses by Lions of Teranga defenders in the 67th minute of the game, and Ecuador’s Caicedo pulled one past Senegalese goalkeeper Mendy. But even before Ecuador could finish with the celebrations of their goal, Senegal’s captain Kalidou Koulibaly slotted in a volley in the 69th minute, after he was found unmarked at the Ecuadorians defence.
Senegal were only wishing that the game ends as Ecuador staged attack after attack, since both sides knew that any draw would see Ecuador through to knockout stage.
The win meant that Senegal now became the first African team to qualify for the round of 32 in Qatar World Cup 2022. Ecuador officially joined the hosts Qatar, who were also meeting the Netherlands at the same time. The hosts were turned to whipping boys in the group A as every team (Senegal, Ecuador and Netherlands) beat them. The only solace they now have is the solitary goal which they scored against Senegal.
The Lions of Teranga will now meet England, who were the winners in their group, while Netherlands will meet USA on Saturday, who emerged as the runners-up in group B.