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Senegal defeat hosts Qatar to set up crucial Ecuador showdown

Senegal added to the misery of 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts Qatar on Friday with a 3-1 victory for their first three points in Group A. Boulaye Dia, Famara Diédhiou and Bamba Dieng provided the goals for the African champions who took advantage of defending mistakes in a frustrating outing for the hosts. Ghanaian-born forward provided the lone goal for Qatar, who are now eliminated from the competition ahead of Tuesday’s final Group A matchup against the Netherlands. Senegal will face Ecuador in a crucial fixture that will determine whether the Lions of Teranga advance to the knockout stages.

The hosts looked less nervous in their second match but still failed to be a threat moving forward early on, allowing Senegal to get on the front foot. Qatar goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham got the start after Saad Al Sheeb’s disastrous performance against Ecuador but nearly gifted Senegal an opener when his missed attempt to play a 17th minute corner kick nearly cost his team. Barsham was called into action again before the half hour mark with a successful intervention to close down Ismaïla Sarr after Senegal keeper Édouard Mendy picked out the Watford forward with an excellent long ball.

Qatar gained more confidence in the attack and star player Akram Afif appeared to have been fouled in the Senegalese penalty area in the 34th minute but referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz waved away the home side’s protests. Just when it seemed the hosts were settling in defensive errors gave Senegal a needed boost.  Qatar defender Boualem Khoukhi’s misplay of a 41st minute Krépin Diatta cross allowed Boulaye Dia to sweep in and fire low past Barsham for the opener. Soon after the break poor marking allowed Famara Diédhiou to powerfully head home Ismail Jakobs’ corner kick.

A furious comeback attempt saw the Qatari attack spring to life starting around the hour mark. Abdelkarim Hassan’s long range blast went just wide before spectacular goalkeeping from Mendy denied first Almoez Ali and then an Ismaeel Mohammad header that looked like a sure goal. Eventually the hosts got their first goal of the competition in the 78th minute when Mohammad’s cross found substitute striker Mohammed Muntari for a header Mendy could only helplessly watch bounce in.

Five minutes later, however, slack Qatari defending spoiled their comeback hopes at a crucial moment. Senegal substitute Iliman Ndiaye did well to navigate past multiple players and received a return pass on the right wing, crossing for fellow substitute Bamba Dieng. The Olympique Marseille forward had plenty of space to fire in first time and seal three important points for the Lions of Teranga.

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