By Sean Walsh
Senegal snatched their place from Ecuador in the round of 16 of the World Cup with a 2-1 victory on the final day of Group A.
Tri needed just one point to secure progress to the knockout stages, while Lions of Teranga needed all three and showed the greatest effort at the Khalifa International Stadium, deservedly setting up the clash with the Group B winners
Idrissa Gueye squandered a great chance to take a lead in the third minute when Ismail Jakobs’s cut evaded several yellow shirts and fell gently on the Everton man, but he could only find the side net from just outside the six-yard box.
Ecuador’s dangerous defense gave Boulaye Dia another great opener soon after, beating the offside trap to meet a clever through ball from Youssouf Sabaly, but dragged his agonizing shot wide.
Ismaila Sarr was next to go close for the Lions of Teranga, seating right-back Angelo Preciado on his backside and slicing into his right foot, with his curling shot deflected just over the bar.
With half-time looming, Senegal were awarded a penalty when Sarr was bagged by a reckless Piero Hincapie, with referee Clement Turpin immediately pointing to the spot. The Watford winger stepped up and selected bottom corner.
Ecuador manager Gustavo Alfaro made two half-time changes to try to galvanize his side, but La Tri still looked flat and lacked the urgency they needed.
Against the tide of play, Ecuador found their longed-for equalizer from a corner kick, with Moises Caicedo intercepting at the far post, breaking away from Ismail Jakobs for the easiest of endgames.
But almost immediately, Senegal retook the lead on the other side. Idrissa Gueye’s free kick rebounded off Pervis Estupinan and fell gently for Kalidou Koulibaly who fired in from close range.
A half-volley from Gonzalo Plata went straight into Edouard Mendy’s throat as Ecuador went in search of a second equaliser, while Boulaye Dia struck wide on the other end of the break.
Senegal made it through six minutes of added time to advance to the knockout stages for the first time since 2002.
Player Ratings Ecuador vs Senegal, World Cup
1. Ecuador (4-3-3)
GOALKEEPER: Hernan Galindez – 5/10 – Cheated for the penalty and couldn’t do much on Koulibaly’s shot.
RB: Angelo Preciado – 4/10 – A constant responsibility on the Ecuadorian right.
BC: Felix Torres – 6/10 – Fundamental assist for Caicedo with his corner kick.
CB: Piero Hincapie – 3/10 – A foul so useless as to justify the penalty. He fails his country.
LB: Pervis Estupinan – 5/10 – Nowhere near as threatening as he had been at the start of the group stage and Ecuador missed him.
MC: Carlos Gruezo – 4/10 – He contributed very little and was caught at half-time.
CM: Alan Franco – 4/10 – Idem. Ecuador didn’t need passengers, let alone two in midfield.
MC: Moises Caicedo – 7/10 – The only midfielder ready for the fight, scoring a necessary equaliser.
AD: Gonzalo Plata – 4/10 – It didn’t really show its promise until it was too late.
CF: Michael Estrada – 4/10 – He had some victories in early duels but faded away very quickly.
AS: Enner Valencia – 4/10 – It likewise started brilliantly but just couldn’t keep up that pace.
SUB: Jeremy Sarmiento (46′ for Franco) – 6/10
BELOW: Jose Cifuentes (46′ for Gruezo) – 5/10
BELOW: Djorkaeff Reasco (64′ for Estrada) – 5/10
SUB: Jackson Porozo (85′ for Preciado) – N/A
Director: Gustavo Alfaro – 3/10 – Ecuador fell flat from the start and didn’t deserve to advance based on Monday’s performance.
2. Senegal (4-2-3-1)
GOALKEEPER: Edouard Mendy – 6/10 – He didn’t have much to do despite Ecuador needing to score.
RB: Youssouf Sabaly – 7/10 – Impressively he went up and down the flank in aid of Senegal.
CB: Kalidou Koulibaly – 9/10 – A captain’s performance on both counts, leading his nation to victory.
Credit card: Abdou Diallo – 7/10 – He partnered Koulibaly in the heart of the Senegalese defence.
LB: Ismail Jacobs – 5/10 – Brought back in for Ecuador equalizer. For the rest it was fine.
CM: Pathe Ciss – 6/10 – I didn’t have to do much to win the battle in midfield.
WC: Papa Gueye – 6/10 – He likewise completed the basics and that seemed to be enough.
RM: Iliman Ndiaye – 7/10 – Estupinan has not given much rest, constantly asking questions of Brighton’s left-back.
AM: Idrissa Gueye – 6/10 – Pressed well in the pocket despite being naturally a defensive midfielder. Banned for last 16.
LM: Ismaila Sarr – 8/10 – As Ndiaye has shown, there is a lot of quality in the league, Preciado going round and round.
CF: The Beatles – 5/10 – I found it difficult to get into the game. Most of Senegal’s attacks came from large areas.
BELOW: Nampalys Mendy (74′ for Ciss) – 6/10
BELOW: Bamba Dieng (74′) – 5/1
SUB: Pape Abou Cisse (90′ per day) – N/A
Coach: Aliou Cisse – 8/10 – Senegal played with aggression and intensity right from the start. They have great value for their place in the next round.
Player of the match – Kalidou Koulibaly
This article was originally posted on 90min.com as Ecuador 1-2 Senegal: Player ratings as Lions of Teranga fill La Tri’s bottom 16 spots.
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