Kalidou Koulibaly’s nerveless volley sent Senegal into the World Cup’s knockout stages for only the second time in their history as they eliminated Ecuador at a rowdy Khalifa International Stadium.

The win means Aliou Cisse’s side finish second in Group A, setting up a last-16 meeting with Group B winners England on Sunday (19:00 GMT).

All three goals came from players based in England as Ecuador’s Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo cancelled out a penalty by Watford’s Ismaila Sarr before Chelsea defender Koulibaly’s side-footer won it.

Ecuador needed just a point to progress but paid the price for a passive display as Senegal were spurred on by an almost non-stop cacophony of drumming from their supporters in Al Rayyan.

Watford winger Sarr coolly stroked home from the spot, after being clumsily upended by Ecuador defender Piero Hincapie, to put the African champions deservedly ahead.

Ecuador levelled with their first real chance as Caicedo swept home Felix Torres’ flick-on but Koulibaly’s composed finish immediately regained the lead for Senegal, who knew only victory would be enough to go through barring an unlikely Qatar upset against the Netherlands.

They held out amid a nervy six minutes of stoppage time to finish as runners-up in the group behind the Dutch, who clinched top spot by handing the tournament hosts a third defeat in three games with a comfortable 2-0 win in Al Khor.

Senegal find goals despite missing Mane

Kalidou Koulibaly's winner was his first goal for Senegal in his 67th international cap for his country
Kalidou Koulibaly’s winner was his first goal for Senegal in his 67th international cap for his country

Much has been made of the absence of Senegal talisman Sadio Mane from this tournament through injury but they have found goals from elsewhere, their five thus far in Qatar all coming from different players.

They found swathes of space in and around the Ecuador area early on as the South Americans began nervily but Everton’s Idrissa Gueye and Boulaye Dia both dragged excellent opportunities wide.

But Sarr, who had missed his two previous penalties for his club, showed composure from the spot to slot his side in front and their heads did not drop even when Caicedo levelled from a corner.

Victory secured a first last-16 appearance since 2002, when they shocked France in the opening game on their way to the quarter-finals and, before the game, Senegal dedicated their efforts to former Fulham and Portsmouth midfielder Papa Bouba Diop – scorer of the famous winner against the French – who died, two years ago to the day, in 2020 aged 42.

Koulibaly, who paid tribute by penning 19, Bouba Diop’s old shirt number, on his captain’s armband, said he would give his man-of-the-match award to the late midfielder’s family.

“We wanted to pay homage to him, he made me dream when I was a boy,” said the 31-year-old.

“We knew we wanted to play in his honour, this wasn’t something we were going to let slip. This was a special day for Senegal.”

Senegal became the first African team to beat a South American side at the World Cup since Cameroon against Colombia in 1990, ending a 21-game winless run in such meetings, and are only the third African nation to reach the knockout stages on two or more occasions, emulating Nigeria and Ghana.

They will, however, be without influential midfielder Gueye, for the second round – and what would have been his 100th cap – after he picked up a second yellow card of the tournament.

Entertaining Ecuador suffer stage fright

Many Ecuador players lay prostrate on the pitch at the final whistle, some in tears, devastated at letting slip their chance of progression – like Senegal they had only once previously negotiated the group stages – and a face-down, clearly distraught Caicedo had to be physically hauled from the turf by team-mates.

Ecuador had rightly earned plaudits for their opening two games, having brushed aside Qatar and arguably been the better side in their 1-1 draw with the Dutch – but they failed to reproduce that level of performance under the pressure of a virtual winner-take-all environment.

Boss Gustavo Alfaro risked joint leading World Cup scorer Enner Valencia despite the three-goal forward being taken off on a stretcher late on against the Netherlands, and he failed to make any impact.

The four points they had accrued prior to the game meant Ecuador could play for a draw but they did not look like a side that had kept seven successive clean sheets earlier in 2022 and Senegal took full advantage.

Player of the match

CaicedoMoisés Caicedo

Ecuador

  1. Squad number23Player nameCaicedo

  2. Squad number7Player nameEstupiñán

  3. Squad number16Player nameSarmiento

  4. Squad number13Player nameE Valencia

  5. Squad number24Player nameReasco

  6. Squad number5Player nameCifuentes

  7. Squad number2Player nameTorres

  8. Squad number25Player namePorozo

  9. Squad number19Player namePlata

  10. Squad number11Player nameEstrada

  11. Squad number17Player namePreciado

  12. Squad number3Player nameHincapié

  13. Squad number8Player nameGruezo

  14. Squad number21Player nameFranco

  15. Squad number1Player nameGalíndez

Senegal

  1. Squad number13Player nameNdiaye

  2. Squad number18Player nameSarr

  3. Squad number3Player nameKoulibaly

  4. Squad number4Player nameCissé

  5. Squad number26Player nameGueye

  6. Squad number16Player nameMendy

  7. Squad number6Player nameMendy

  8. Squad number9Player nameDia

  9. Squad number5Player nameGueye

  10. Squad number22Player nameDiallo

  11. Squad number11Player nameCiss

  12. Squad number21Player nameSabaly

  13. Squad number14Player nameJakobs

  14. Squad number20Player nameDieng

Line-ups

Ecuador

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Galíndez
  • 17PreciadoSubstituted forPorozoat 85′minutes
  • 2Torres
  • 3Hincapié
  • 7Estupiñán
  • 21FrancoSubstituted forSarmientoat 45′minutes
  • 8GruezoSubstituted forCifuentesat 45′minutes
  • 23Caicedo
  • 19Plata
  • 11EstradaSubstituted forReascoat 64′minutes
  • 13E Valencia

Substitutes

  • 4Arboleda
  • 5Cifuentes
  • 6Pacho
  • 9Preciado
  • 10Ibarra
  • 12Ramírez
  • 14Arreaga
  • 15Mena
  • 16Sarmiento
  • 18Palacios
  • 22Domínguez
  • 24Reasco
  • 25Porozo
  • 26Rodríguez

Senegal

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 16Mendy
  • 21Sabaly
  • 3Koulibaly
  • 22Diallo
  • 14Jakobs
  • 11CissSubstituted forMendyat 74′minutes
  • 26Gueye
  • 13NdiayeSubstituted forDiengat 75′minutes
  • 5GueyeBooked at 66mins
  • 18Sarr
  • 9DiaSubstituted forCisséat 90+5′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Dieng
  • 2Mendy
  • 4Cissé
  • 6Mendy
  • 7Jackson
  • 10N’Diaye
  • 12Ballo-Touré
  • 15Diatta
  • 17Sarr
  • 19Diédhiou
  • 20Dieng
  • 23Gomis
  • 24Name
  • 25Loum

Referee:
Clément Turpin

Attendance:
44,569

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