Hosts Qatar were eliminated from the World Cup after just two matches in Group A – the first ever elimination for a host nation – after losing 3-1 to Senegal and Ecuador drew 1-1 on Friday with Holland.
Qatar joined South Africa in 2010 as the only hosts who failed to reach the second round of a World Cup. South Africa were at least still in the running for their third group match, but Qatar now have no chance of reaching the round of 16.
Boulaye Dia opened the scoring for Senegal in the 41st minute after a defensive error by Boualem Khoukhi, and Famara Diedhiou headed in in the 48th minute.
Qatar played better than in their opening 2-0 defeat by Ecuador and revived their hopes as substitute Mohammed Muntari scored his first World Cup goal in the 78th minute.
But Bamba Dieng, who also came on, finished six minutes later for Senegal.
“You have to know where we come from. We have to work with many limitations here. Qatar is a small country, the league is not that competitive,” said Qatari coach Felix Sanchez.
Senegal meanwhile remain in the running for a place in the round of 16 with the first victory for an African team at the tournament. Coach Aliou Cissé even believes that an African team can be world champions.
“Anything is possible. Japan beat Germany, Saudi Arabia won against Argentina. Things have changed. An African team can win the World Cup. I hope it’s Senegal,” he said.
Tuesday’s final day pits them against Ecuador in what will be a winner-takes-all match, as the Dutch take on Qatar knowing that one point is enough to progress. Ecuador just need a draw too.
The hosts made a few changes, including in goal where Meshaal Barsham, brother of world and Olympic high jump champion Mutaz Essa Barshim, took over for Saad Al-Sheeb who hadn’t looked well in the first match.
But they only created a serious threat after the hour mark and when they were 2-0 down, with Abdelkarim Hassan aiming within inches and Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy then making a huge save from Ismaeel Mohammed.
Qatar finally broke through thanks to Muntari’s header in the 78th minute immediately after his entry. This brought the crowd back to life, which had been mostly drowned out by Senegalese drummers.
But they failed to secure an equalizer which would have brightened their chances of advancing, and were beaten for good when Dieng fired into the bottom left corner in the 84th minute following Iliman Ndiaye’s run down the right.
Ecuador reacted to an early setback by earning an equalizer against the Netherlands.
Cody Gakpo scored the fastest goal of the tournament so far to put the Dutch ahead in the sixth minute. The winger took advantage of Ecuador’s poor defense just outside the area to score his second Qatar goal.
Ecuador had their first chance to equalize in the 32nd minute when Dutch goalkeeper Andries Noppert made a great save to fend off Enner Valencia. Pervis Estupinan then found the net, but his attempt was ruled out for offside as the South Americans took control of the game.
They didn’t waste much time in the second half and Valencia equalized in the 49th minute after taking a rebound from Estupinan’s shot.
The Dutch defense could only watch when around 10 minutes later Gonzalo Plata’s stunning hit the crossbar meaning they would remain level on points with Ecuador.
“I was very proud of this match,” said Ecuador coach Gustavo Alfaro.
Valencia have scored Ecuador’s last six World Cup goals and are so far the top scorer of the 2022 tournament with three, but left the field on a stretcher in the 89th minute after falling.
It’s a big concern ahead of Tuesday’s decider against Senegal. Alfaro had previously said Valencia suffered a “trauma” to his knee in their opening match against Qatar.
Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk said: “We lost the ball too quickly and played too slowly. They were much more aggressive.”