African champions progress to the knockout phase courtesy of captain Kalidou Koulibaly’s second-half winner.

Senegal have booked their place in the World Cup last 16 with a thrilling 2-1 win over Ecuador on Tuesday, sending the South American side out of the tournament in their wake.

Captain Kalidou Koulibaly sealed the African champion’s progression to the knockout phase with a dramatic 70th-minute winner at the Khalifa International Stadium just moments after Moises Caicedo had drawn Ecuador level.

At 1-1, Ecuador would have advanced from Group A and Senegal would have been eliminated.

The end-to-end drama came after Ismaila Sarr’s confident penalty had put Senegal ahead just before the halftime break, marking just reward for their domination of the opening period against an opponent happy to sit back and try to soak up the pressure.

The final result meant Senegal finished second in Group A with six points from their three matches, two ahead of Ecuador, whose tournament held much promise but ultimately ended in bitter disappointment.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands beat Qatar 2-0 on Tuesday to finish top and cap a miserable end to the tournament for the hosts, who were rooted in last place having failed to win a single point from their three games.

Senegal's players celebrate their win
Tuesday’s win meant Senegal finished second in Group A with six points from their three matches [Natacha Pisarenko/AP]

Senegal last advanced from the group stage at the 2002 World Cup, when the team reached the quarterfinals in its tournament debut.

Their success this time around has come despite the absence of star forward Sadio Mane, who saw his World Cup dream crashing down on the eve of the competition as a knee injury ruled him out of a trip to Qatar.

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