Ecuador 1-2 Senegal: Senegal reach knockout stage for first time in 20 years
Senegal's defender #03 Kalidou Koulibaly celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's second goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group A football match between Ecuador and Senegal at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on November 29, 2022. (Photo by JUNG Yeon-je / AFP) (Photo by JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)

Senegal reached the knockout stages at a World Cup for the first time since the 2002 edition with a 2-1 victory over Ecuador in a tense finish to Group A. 

Ismaila Sarr gave the Lions of Teranga the lead from the penalty spot in the first-half.

Moises Caicedo equalised halfway through the second-half but Ecuador were level for just two minutes before Kalidou Koulibaly restored the African nation's lead. 

The result means that Senegal are through to the knockout stages at Ecuador's expense and could face England, provided Gareth Southgate's side win Group B. 

  • Story of the Match

Senegal had the better of the opening exchanges in an end-to-end start to the contest. 

Idrissa Gueye had the first chance of the match in the third minute but missed the target from a dangerous cross. 

Boulaye Dia had another great chance when he was played through on goal but could only drag his shot wide after eight minutes.

Ecuador's Enner Valencia was attempting to become the first player to score in seven consecutive World Cup matches, and he came close just after the ten-minute mark but his free-kick and subsequent shot were blocked. 

Sarr bent a 25th minute effort inches wide of the top right corner after dribbling through the Ecuador defence. 

Pathe Ciss' header from Ismail Jakobs free-kick floated just over the crossbar just before the 40th-minute mark. 

Senegal were awarded a penalty when Piero Hincapié brought down Sarr in the 42nd minute, and the Watford man kept his composure from the spot.  

After the break, Gustavo Alfaro made two changes to his side, Jeremy Sarmiento and Jose Cifuentes replaced Alan Franco and Carlos Gruezo

With La Tricolor needing just one goal to qualify, Djorkaeff Reasco replaced Michael Estrada with just over 25 minutes remaining. 

Gueye will be suspended for the next match after he received the first booking of the match for a challenge on Gonzalo Plata. 

From the resulting free-kick, Brighton's Caicedo tapped the ball in from Felix Torres' flick-on. 

Ecuador were level for just two minutes after Chelsea's Koulibaly slammed home his first ever goal for his country in 67 appearances after Valencia turned the ball towards him. 

Aliou Cisse then made his team's first changes, Ciss and the lively Iliman Ndiaye were replaced by Nampalys Mendy and Bamba Dieng

Plata then shot straight at Mendy from Sarmiento's cross for the South Americans before Dia's thunderbolt went narrowly wide of Hernan Galindez's right post for the Africans. 

Jackson Porozo was brought on for Angelo Preciado as Ecuador searched for the goal that would take them through. 

Senegal nerves were evident as Edouard Mendy flapped a late corner just wide of his own net with 93 minutes gone. 

Defender Pape Abou Cisse replaced Dia as the Africans desperately held on to their narrow lead to seal a place in the knockout stages for the first time in 20 years. 

  • Player of the Match

Kalidou Koulibaly 

The Chelsea defender was the hero as he scored his first ever goal for his country to fire them into the knockout rounds. 

The unlikely match-winner became Senegal's oldest ever goalscorer at the tournament (31y, 162d). 

He was solid defensively too, making four tackles, ten clearances, winning seven out of seven ground duels and three of five aerial duels.