Senegal defeated Ecuador 2-1 on Tuesday at the Khalifa International Stadium to advance to the World Cup’s quarterfinals. Winger Ismaila Sarr kept his cool to score a penalty kick in the first half and captain Kalidou Koulibaly scored the second goal.
After earning the penalty himself, Sarr converted it in the 44th minute. However, Moises Caicedo scored an equalizer for Ecuador, who needed only a draw to advance to the knockout rounds.
However, as Koulibaly restored Senegal’s lead, which they were able to hold onto for the remainder of the match, that joy for the South Americans lasted only three minutes.
With six points from their three matches, the African champions are second in Group A. They are one point behind the winners Netherlands and two points ahead of Ecuador, whose tournament held a lot of promise but ended in bitter disappointment.
Senegal dominated the opening period against an opponent who was content to sit back and attempt to absorb the pressure, and the beating of African drums was constant in the stadium.
Early on, Senegal’s Idrissa Gana Gueye missed a shot, and Senegal’s Boulaye Dia missed a shot that went wide of the far post.
Late in the half, after Sarr was pounded into by Ecuador defender Piero Hincapie, he got up to take a penalty kick and put it in the bottom corner, leaving goalkeeper Hernan Galindez rooted to the spot.
In the second half, Ecuador’s desperate push for an equalizer was met by Senegal’s contentment with their passive defense.
Felix Torres sent in a corner midway through the half, and Caicedo scored from the back post unchallenged for a straightforward finish. Since Ivan Kaviedes in 2006, he is the only player other than Enner Valencia to score for Ecuador at the World Cup.
The substantial Ecuadorian crowd in the stands burst into song, but shortly thereafter, Senegal struck again.
Koulibaly volleyed the ball into the net from six yards after the South American team failed to clear a corner.