Ecuador vs Senegal 1-2: Koulibaly Qualifies Teranga Lions

A rampant Senegal side emerged as the second team qualified from World Cup Group A as they beat Ecuador 2-1 in the final matchday. Aliou Cissé’s Teranga Lions thus achieved their second ever qualification to the knockouts, twenty years after breaking through the international stage at World Cup 2002.

What happened to the vibrant Ecuador side seen in the first two games? La Tri probably paid for their coach Eduardo Alfaro’s questionable choices as he setup his side in a new 4-3-3 fashion with goalscorer Enner Valencia placed at left wing. That basically gift-wrapped the whole first half to Senegal, who opened the scoring from the penalty spot after dominating the period.    

When Alfaro corrected things in the second half, Ecuador promptly drew level but were immediately pushed back again by captain Kalidou Koulibaly’s winner. Their final assault was confused and chaotic and resulted in the loud, colorful Senegal fans on the stands celebrate as referee Clement Turpin blew for full time.

That was another joy for the Central African side after winning the Africa’s Cup back in January and a nice redemption after their disappointing first-round elimination four years ago. The Teranga Lions will now likely face England in the Round of 16.

Ecuador needed just one point to go through and perhaps relied too much on that thought. Valencia’s side position resulted in the tournament top scorer (a title he will likely lose soon…) being totally out of play. 

Senegal seemed to know what to do and even though they did not create any real scoring chance, they were the dominating side in the first half. Their opener came from the penalty spot as Piero Hincapié trampled Ismaila Sarr in the box, leaving no doubt to the referee. It was the same 24-year-old Watford man to bury the spot and draw the Teranga Lions ahead. 

Alfaro made two changes after the restart and switched back to a 4-4-2 formation, with Valencia moving back to the striker position alongside Michael Estrada. His move did bring results, also because Senegal now seemed to be happy with their slim lead and only minded about preserving it. 

On 68 minutes, Felix Torres headed the ball for Moises Caicedo from a corner kick and the Brighton midfielder tapped it home from close range. A player on the goal line kept him in play.

But that was when Senegal really won it, as rather than getting demotivated and losing their concentration, Aliou Cissé’s boys promptly hit back and stroke again just two minutes later. From a free kick, Enner Valencia attempted to clear the ball away but the result was a clumsy intervention that delivered the ball right on Koulibaly’s feet.

With Sadio Mane out, it was then the most representative Senegal player to put his signature on the Teranga Lions qualifications as he put the ball past Hernan Galindez with a clinical conclusion. 

Senegal eventually legitimized their lead with a shot from Boulaye Dia that sailed off target and an Idrissa Gana Gueye conclusion saved by the Ecuadorian goalie, while La Tri never were really dangerous again. 

Ecuador lost their way after a brilliant World Cup start, while Senegal bounced back from their disappointing debut and ramped up game after game. That’s usually how yo go far in a World Cup and Aliou Cissé and his boy understood it when it mattered the most.


November 29, 2022 – FIFA World Cup Group A

SCORERS: 44′ I. Sarr (S, pen.), 68′ Caicedo (E), 70′ Koulibaly (S)

ECUADOR (4-3-3): Galindez; An. Preciado (85′ Porozo), Torres, Hincapie, Estupinan; Franco (46′ Cifuentes), Gruezo (46′ Sarmiento), Caicedo; Plata, Estrada (64′ Reasco), Valencia (Ramirez, Dominguez, Arboleda, Pacho, E. Preciado, Ibarra, Arreaga, Mena, Palacios, Rodriguez) Coach: Alfaro
SENEGAL (4-2-3-1): E. Mendy; Sabaly, Koulibaly, Diallo, Jakobs; Ciss (74′ N. Mendy), I. Gueye, P. Gueye; Ndiaye (75′ B. Dieng), Dia (95′ P. Cisse), I. Sarr. (S. Dieng, Gomis, F. Mendy, Jackson, N’Diaye, Ballo-Touré, Diatta, P. Sarr, Diedhiou, Name, Loum) Coach: Cissé
REFEREE: Mr. Turpin (France)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: I. Gueye (S); Added Time: 1st Half 6′, 2nd Half 6′
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