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Ecuador 1-2 Senegal: Africa's champions progress as Sarr steps into Mane's shoes

20:00 EAT 29/11/2022
Sarr Koulibaly Gueye, Senegal
GOAL’s Ed Dove rates the tops and the flops as Africa’s champions progressed to the World Cup knockouts
  • Ecuador 1-2 Senegal

    The Teranga Lions defeated Ecuador 2-1 in their final Group A game on Tuesday to advance to the knockout stages for only the second time in their history.

    Ismaila Sarr’s penalty was cancelled out by Moses Caicedo, but Kalidou Koulibaly’s magnificent reaction and powerful finish from a corner two and a half minutes later ensured an immediate response from Africa’s champions.

    In light of Tuesday’s showdown, Ed Dove reviews the big talking points from the Teranga Lions’ triumph.

  • Senegal coach Aliou Cisse

    Aliou Cisse gets it right

    Cisse made another tactical shift to his side before the Ecuador meeting, again mixing things up after having shuffled his pack for the second group game against Qatar.

    He plumped for a sole striker—Boulaye Dia—returning to the midfield three that has become a staple of the side’s greatest successes under Ciss.

    Cheikhou Kouyate lost his place for the Qatar game, and here it was Nampalys Mendy who stepped out of the side, with Pathe Ciss partnering Pape Gueye and Idrissa Gana Gueye in midfield.

    Senegal managed to drop into an effective block when Ecuador had possession, and—particularly with danger out wide—posed a constant threat in possession.

  • Idrissa Gueye of Senegal at the 2022 World Cup.

    Gana plays a more advanced role

    The reconfigured midfield meant a more advanced role for Idrissa Gana Gueye—playing in his 99th international.

    One of the Premier League’s most effective destroyers over the last decade, Gueye was used in a more advanced role during his time in the Diambars academy and subsequently with LOSC Lille.

    He even adopted a more offensive brief during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, as Senegal reached the final.

    Here, again, with Cisse seeking a balance between stability and offensive threat, Gueye operated behind the central striker, and while he didn’t create any goalscoring chances, he was Senegal’s most consistent passer.

  • Idrissa Gueye of Senegal

    But Gueye will miss the Last 16

    However, while Gueye was again influential for the Lions in a crunch clash, he’ll play no part in the Second Round—and will have to wait for his 100th international cap.

    A Last 16 bout against the Group B winners—potentially England—would have been a career highlight for the experienced midfielder, but instead, a second yellow card—for a shoulder barge—now leads to a suspension.

    He’ll need Senegal to advance to the quarter-finals if he’s to complete his century in Qatar.

  • Ismaila Sarr Senegal Equador Ecuador 29 11 2022

    Sarr delivers the goods

    As well as opening the scoring from the spot, Sarr was one of Senegal’s main threats during the first half.

    Instead of featuring on the right flank, he moved across to the left—taking the absent Sadio Mane’s role—and built on his encouraging displays to date with a vibrant showing.

    Even before the penalty, he’d proved effective cutting in from the right—sending a dangerous ball over in the 22nd minute—and it was clear that Ecuador were struggling to deal with his pace and movement even before he was felled in the box.

    His finish from the spot was exceptionally cool given the pressure of the occasion, while Sarr later represented a valuable outball for the Lions during the second period.

  • Kudus Ghana Qatar 2022

    Africa break World Cup record

    Senegal’s triumph over Ecuador means that Africa have now won four matches at the ongoing World Cup—a record for the continent in the group stage of the tournament.

    In each of the last six tournaments, African teams won exactly three matches in each collective group stage campaign—before that, they’d never won more than two.

    Already this year, however, with four more group matches to play, Africa have won four matches, with Senegal’s pair of triumphs over Qatar and Ecuador coupled with Morocco’s success against Belgium and Ghana’s victory over South Korea.

    Which other records can African teams break in Qatar?