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FIFA WC PIX: Senegal through to round of 16

Last updated on: November 30, 2022 00:37 IST
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IMAGES from the Group A match played between Ecuador and Senegal on Tueday

Hernan Galindez of Ecuador makes a save during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Ecuador and Senegal

IMAGE: Ecuador's Hernan Galindez makes a save during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Ecuador and Senegal. Photograph: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

A change of tactics by Senegal to bypass Ecuador's sturdy midfield allowed them to capitalize on their rivals' indecisiveness between defending and attacking in a 2-1 win that sent the African nation into the knockout stage of the World Cup.

In their final Group A match on Tuesday and needing a win to progress, Senegal opted to play a lone target man, with their wingers wider than they have so far in the tournament.

 

With wingers Ismaila Sarr and Iliman Ndiaye at times marauding near the touchline, Senegal avoided being stopped by Moises Caicedo, a lynchpin of the Ecuadorean team. The pair stimulated the Senegalese attack with seven completed crosses and 15 attempts at goal.

Ecuador's Piero Hincapie battles for possession with Senegal's Iliman Ndiaye

IMAGE: Ecuador's Piero Hincapie battles for possession with Senegal's Iliman Ndiaye. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Piero Hincapie, unable to handle Sarr's pace from the wing, eventually brought him down with a clumsy tackle in the box, leading to the opening goal from the penalty spot by Sarr himself.

Ecuador needed only a draw to advance and sat back in the first half but that penalty just before halftime forced them to change their formation to 4-2-4 from their original 4-3-3 after the break to bolster their attack as elimination loomed.

The sense of urgency that accompanied the formation change pushed them forward and ultimately led to the equaliser by Caicedo, whose commanding presence in midfield has buoyed his side throughout the group stage.

But in a sign of their youthfulness and inexperience on the international stage, Ecuador seemed to relax after levelling and paid a fatal price as they conceded the winning goal three minutes later.

Senegal's Youssouf Sabaly controls the ball against Ecuador's Moises Caicedo.

IMAGE: Senegal's Youssouf Sabaly controls the ball against Ecuador's Moises Caicedo. Photograph: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Enner Valencia, who scored three of his country's four goals at the tournament, looked to be suffering the effects of the injury sustained in the opening game that led to him being taken off in both previous matches.

Without his cutting edge, Ecuador showed little, and the final frustration for their country's soccer hero was that it was his error that led to Kalidou Koulibaly's winning goal.

Koulibaly fired home from a clearance in the 70th minute, three minutes after Moises Caicedo had cancelled out Ismaila Sarr's first-half penalty, to put Senegal on six points in Group A, one behind the Netherlands who beat hosts Qatar 2-0.

Iliman Ndiaye of Senegal clashes with Pervis Estupinan of Ecuador

IMAGE: Senegal's Iliman Ndiaye of Senegal clashes with Ecuador's Pervis Estupinan. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Ecuador, who needed a draw to qualify for the last 16 for the second time after 2006, end up third on four points after a game played to the relentless beat of the Senegal fans' drums.

Senegal, who reached the quarter-finals in 2002 in their previous visit of the knockout phase, will face the winners of Group B, which features England, Iran, the United States and Wales.

 Kalidou Koulibaly of Senegal celebrates after scoring their team’s second goal

IMAGE: Kalidou Koulibaly of Senegal celebrates after scoring their team’s second goal. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty Images
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Source: REUTERS
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