Kalidou Koulibaly’s nerveless volley sent Senegal into the World Cup’s knockout rounds for only the second time in their history as they eliminated Ecuador at a boisterous Khalifa International Stadium.
All three goals were scored by English-based players; Ecuadorian midfielder Moises Caicedo of Brighton canceled out a penalty by Watford’s Ismaila Sarr, and then Chelsea defender Kalidou Koulibaly won it with a side-footed strike.
Ecuador only needed a point to advance, but they paid the price for a lackadaisical performance as Senegal’s fans in Al Rayyan pounded the drums nonstop.
Watford winger Sarr, who was fouled in the box by Ecuador defender Piero Hincapie, calmly knocked home the penalty to give the African champions the lead they earned.
Caicedo scored on Ecuador’s first genuine chance when he swept home Felix Torres’ flick-on, but Senegal quickly recovered the lead thanks to Koulibaly’s clinical finish. Senegal knew that they needed a win to advance, barring an unlikely surprise by Qatar against the Netherlands.
They survived a tense final six minutes of stoppage time to finish second in Group A, behind the Dutch, who won the group by defeating the tournament hosts, 2-0, in Al Khor.
The Lions of Teranga, led by Aliou Cisse, will play the Group B champions in the round of 16, a spot that Gareth Southgate’s England squad may clinch later on Tuesday.