Doha – Captain Kalidou Koulibaly’s second-half strike earned Senegal a 2-1 win against Ecuador that sent the African team into the knockout phase of the World Cup for the second time on Tuesday.
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.
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.
Meanwhile Cody Gakpo netted his third goal in three games as the Netherlands comfortably beat World Cup hosts Qatar 2-0 at the Al Bayt Stadium on Tuesday to secure top spot in Group A and advance to the knockout stages.
The Dutch, who finished with seven points from their three group games, will be joined in the last 16 by Senegal, who knocked out Ecuador by beating them 2-1 to end up second on six points.
The Qataris had been eliminated after their 3-1 loss to Senegal and despite huge investment in state-of-the-art facilities to host the World Cup, they came up short again on the pitch.
They were not without their moments in a dull first half, forcing a couple of corners and threatening on the edge of the Dutch area, but no sooner had they bared their teeth than they were hit with a gut-punch of a goal by Gakpo.
Davy Klaassen played an inviting ball into the path of the 23-year-old and he received it at pace, slicing through the heart of the defence before dispatching a well-placed shot past Meshaal Bersham to open the scoring in the 26th minute.
Four minutes into the second half the Dutch struck again as a cross from Klaassen made its way to Depay and the Qatari defence was caught ball-watching as his shot was saved, allowing Frenkie de Jong to bundle it into the net.
With Qatar lacking the quality to mount a comeback, the Dutch had a goal ruled out after Gakpo was judged to have handled the ball in the build-up, but they still coasted to victory.
The final whistle signalled the start of the short wait for the Dutch to find out which of the Group B teams – England, Wales, Iran or the United States – they will meet in the last 16.
Asian champions Qatar will go back to the role of tournament hosts and plotting the future of the game in their country.