Kalidou Koulibaly’s nerveless volley sent Senegal into the knockout stages of the World Cup for only the second time in their history by knocking out Ecuador at an international stadium in Khalifa.
All three goals came from England-based players as Brighton’s Ecuadorian midfielder Moises Caicedo canceled out a penalty from Watford’s Ismaila Sarr before the Chelsea defender’s full-back Koulibaly won it.
Ecuador needed just one point to progress but paid the price for a passive display as Senegal were spurred on by an almost uninterrupted cacophony of drumming from their supporters in Al Rayyan.
Watford winger Sarr struck coldly home, after being clumsily brought down by Ecuador defender Piero Hincapie, to put the African champions deservedly ahead.
Ecuador equalized with their first real chance as Caicedo brought home the Felix Torres flick, but Koulibaly’s calm finish immediately retook the lead for Senegal, who knew only victory would be enough to avoid an upset unlikely of Qatar against the Netherlands.
They held on amid a nervy six-minute stoppage time to finish second in Group A 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.
Aliou Cisse’s side are potential knockout round opponents for England given the Teranga Lions next face the Group B winners – a berth Gareth Southgate’s side could seal later on Tuesday.