Ecuador vs Senegal, World Cup 2022 result: Koulibaly sets up England last-16 tie

Ecuador vs Senegal, World Cup 2022 result: Koulibaly sets up potential England last-16 tie - Raul Arboleda/Getty Images
Ecuador vs Senegal, World Cup 2022 result: Koulibaly sets up potential England last-16 tie - Raul Arboleda/Getty Images

Ecuador 1 Senegal 2

05:39 PM

Report

Koulibaly hits emotional winner to send Senegal through

By Jim White

Even in the midst of the most cynical World Cup of all, there was time for proper emotion. When Kalidou Koulibaly thumped home the winning goal for Senegal, the strike that took them into the last 16, he pointed to his captain’s armband.

On it he had written 19, the number worn by the late Papa Bouba Diop when he scored what, until then, had been Senegal’s most renowned goal, the winner against France in the 2002 World Cup. Diop died exactly two years ago. Clearly it meant everything to Koulibaly to score his first international goal in 66 appearances in such circumstances.

And Koulibaly was not alone. What a victory this was. Ecuador may have been the favourites to progress along with Holland from Group A, but Senegal richly deserved their victory.

Under the calm stewardship of Aliou Cisse, they played with discipline, strength and determination to progress.

Not to mention real resilience, coming back after Ecuador had equalised within two minutes to secure victory. And doing so without by far their most accomplished player: the injured Sadio Mane.

They won it with goals from names familiar in English football. Watford’s Ismaila Sarr scored a penalty, before Chelsea’s Koulibaly thumped home the winner.

Ismaila Sarr of Senegal scores their team’s first goal off a penalty during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Ecuador and Senegal - Buda Mendes/Getty Images
Ismaila Sarr of Senegal scores their team’s first goal off a penalty during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Ecuador and Senegal - Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Brighton’s Moises Caicedo tapped home a corner. But Senegal never let them back in it.

The truth was the South Americans had never really got into the game. And that was largely due to their opponents’ tactical plan.

Picking up the rhythm, from their fan band, Senegal played at a ferocious pace.

They allowed Ecuador no time on the ball, closing them down at such speed every time the South Americans endeavoured to take possession they barely had time to draw breath.

Kalidou Koulibaly netted his first international goal - Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
Kalidou Koulibaly netted his first international goal - Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Koulibaly’s shirt was an indication of the Senegal collective effort: after less than half an hour it was transparent with sweat.

And as they move to the last 16 to match the achievements of Diop’s generation, they show absolutely no hint of wishing to leave it there.

Match details

Ecuador (4-3-3): Galindez 6; Preciado 6 (Porozo 85), Torres 6, Hincapie 6, Estupinan 5; Franco 5 (Cifuentes 45), Gruezo 5 (Sarmiento 45), Caicedo 7; Plata 6, Estrada 5 (Reasco 63), Valencia 5.
Goal: Caicedo (67).
Substitutes not used: Arboleda, Pacho, Preciado, Ibarra, Ramirez, Arreaga, Mena, Palacios, Dominguez, Rodriguez.
Senegal (4-2-3-1): E. Mendy 6; Sabaly 7, Koulibaly 8, Jakobs 6, Diatta 6; P Gueye 6, Ciss 6 (Dieng 74); I Sarr 7, I Gueye 8, Ndiaye 7 (N Mendy 74); Dia 6 (Cisse 90).
Booked: I Gueye.
Goals: Sarr (pen, 44), Koulibaly (70).
Substitutes not used: Mendy, Jackson, N'Diaye, Ballo-Touré, Diatta, Sarr, Diédhiou, Dieng, Gomis, Name, Loum.
Referee: Clément Turpin (France).
Attendance: 44,569.

Ecuador 1 Senegal 2: As it happened

05:11 PM

From Jim White in the Khalifa International Stadium

It might seem an unlikely result. Ecuador may have been the favourites to progress along with Holland from Group A. But Senegal, driven on by the relentless thumping row delivered by their magnificent supporters and their drums, they really deserved this win. Under the calm stewardship of Aliou Cisse, a coach not so much cool as refrigerated, they played with discipline, strength and determination to progress. Now they could meet England in the last sixteen. And nobody should underestimate the challenge.

They won it with goals from names familiar in English football. Watford’s Ismaili Sarr scored a penalty, and Chelsea’s Kalidou Koulibaly thumped home the winner. In between Ecuador had briefly suggested they might rally when Brighton’s Moises Caicedo tapped home a corner. But Senegal never let them back in it. Indeed Koulibaly’s goal (his first in 66 international appearances) came just two minutes 30 seconds after Ecuador equalised.

The truth was the South Americans had never really got into the game. Outplayed in the first half, barely able to gain any possession, once they went behind they had to throw everything forward. There could be no hanging back. Gonzalo Plata had a shot saved by Mendy, but Senegal kept winning the ball in midfield. Ecuador could not build sustained attacks, the danger they had presented to the Netherlands could not be repeated.

Their promise never materialised. At the final whistle, as the turf lay littered with Ecuador bodies, you could say the result really got the Senegal crowd going. Except they had been going all game.

05:09 PM

Contrasting emotions

 Edouard Mendy of Senegal celebrates after the 2-1 win during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Ecuador and Senegal at Khalifa International Stadium - Buda Mendes/Getty Images
Edouard Mendy of Senegal celebrates after the 2-1 win during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Ecuador and Senegal at Khalifa International Stadium - Buda Mendes/Getty Images
Senegal's Ismaila Sarr celebrates qualifying for the knockout stages - Dylan Martinez/Getty Images
Senegal's Ismaila Sarr celebrates qualifying for the knockout stages - Dylan Martinez/Getty Images
Ecuador players look dejected after being eliminated from the World Cup - Issie Kato/Reuters
Ecuador players look dejected after being eliminated from the World Cup - Issie Kato/Reuters

05:05 PM

FT: Ecuador 1 Senegal 2

Pure elation for Senegal, they are through to the last-16! The first time they have reached the knockout stages in a World Cup since 2002.

You have to feel for Ecuador, they were going through after Caicedo's second-half leveller but in the end Senegalese captain Koulibaly's goal just two minutes later proved the decisive goal.

Senegal will face the winners of Group B in the last-16. As it stands, that's England!

05:00 PM

90+6: Ecuador 1 Senegal 2

Ecuador launch their final ball into the Senegal box but the referee awards a free-kick against him. You have to say, Senegal are doing everything they can to waste these final seconds.

04:58 PM

90+4: Ecuador 1 Senegal 2

What a chance as Sarimento's cross is flicked wide by Porozo. Hincapie is screaming at the referee for a penalty but it's not clear exactly why- his appeal is rightly ignored.

04:57 PM

90+2: Ecuador 1 Senegal 2

Édouard Mendy palms the Ecuador corner to give another corner! Senegal are under pressure here but they are able to get the second clearance away.

Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy of Senegal makes a save the FIFA World Cup 2022 group A soccer match between Ecuador and Senegal at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha - Rolex dela Pena/Shutterstock
Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy of Senegal makes a save the FIFA World Cup 2022 group A soccer match between Ecuador and Senegal at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha - Rolex dela Pena/Shutterstock

04:55 PM

90 min: Ecuador 1 Senegal 2

Just been confirmed that six minutes will be added on. Surely, that's enough time for Ecuador to find an equalizer?

04:54 PM

88 min: Ecuador 1 Senegal 2

Tense moments for both sets of fans inside the Khalifa International Stadium right now. Can Senegal hold on to claim victory or will Ecuador strike back? They have looked pretty comfortable but we're sure to have a lengthy period of stoppage time.

04:51 PM

85 min: Ecuador 1 Senegal 2

Senegal are really pushing for a third here but Gueye's shot is low and held by Galindez at the second attempt.

Can we expect another twist in this match?

04:49 PM

83 min: Ecuador 1 Senegal 2

Enner Valencia wants a free-kick after going to ground when trying to go behind the Senegal defence. However, Diallo blocks him off but referee waves it on- correct call.

04:47 PM

80 min: Ecuador 1 Senegal 2

Ecuador need to keep some composure on the ball. Every time they win it, they give it straight back to Senegal. This is massive 10 minutes at the Khalifa International Stadium.

04:44 PM

78 min: Ecuador 1 Senegal 2

Goal-scorer Ismaïla Sarr has caused serious problems in this game by Preciado. Yet again, he goes down after beating the right-back as he charges forward into the box. Some vague appeals by the Senegal players for a penalty but they settle for a corner, with Ecuador able to clear.

04:42 PM

74 min: Ecuador 1 Senegal 2

What a chance as Sarmiento does extremely well on the left to create space for a decent cross and the ball lands to Plata. He is able to get a shot off but it's straight at the keeper.

04:36 PM

70 min: Ecuador 1 Senegal 2

GOALLL: Koulibaly

I can't quite believe it, Ecuador's equaliser only lasted two minutes!

It's another set-piece as Ecuador fail to clear their lines as a dangerous diagonal free kick from Gueye and captain fantastic Koulibaly meets the loose ball with an emphatic voelly.

That goal sends Senegal back into the second place of this Group A. Another twist to this thrilling game!

Kalidou Koulibaly of Senegal celebrates after scoring their team’s second goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Ecuador and Senegal - Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
Kalidou Koulibaly of Senegal celebrates after scoring their team’s second goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Ecuador and Senegal - Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

04:33 PM

68 min: Ecuador 1 Senegal 1

GOALLL: Caicedo

What a goal for Ecuador. They have been significantly better in this half and they finally have their reward. It comes from a corner as the unmarked Caicedo turns as Torres flicks as the far post. As things stand, Ecuador are going through as Group A runners-up.

November 29, 2022 Ecuador's Moises Caicedo scores their first goal - Issei Kato/Reuters
November 29, 2022 Ecuador's Moises Caicedo scores their first goal - Issei Kato/Reuters
Moises Caicedo of Ecuador celebrates with teammates after scoring their team's first goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Ecuador and Senegal at Khalifa International Stadium - Clive Mason/Getty Images
Moises Caicedo of Ecuador celebrates with teammates after scoring their team's first goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Ecuador and Senegal at Khalifa International Stadium - Clive Mason/Getty Images

04:31 PM

62 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 1

Gueye is booked following a clumsy tackle on Plata. Sadly, that is a significant card for him, as if Senegal get through, it will keep him out of their last-16 tie with suspension.

04:28 PM

57 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 1

That is wide from Estupinan as he sends over a cross from the left and Estrada meets it but the header is slightly awkward. He connects but his effort is sailing wide.

04:21 PM

54 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 1

Preciado is able to get forward well on the right channel and fires in a low-cross which is cleared by Senegal. Finally, we are seeing Ecuador putting pressure on their opponents.

Just a quick reminder that the runners up from this group are likely to face England in the last 16!

04:19 PM

51 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 1

Ecuador are showing some attacking intent at the start of this second-half. A draw from them sends them through to the last 16 but they need to create more than they did in the first half to find an equaliser.

04:12 PM

48 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 1

In the other Group A clash, the Netherlands have just doubled their lead courtesy of Frenkie De Jong.

04:10 PM

45 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 1

Senegal gets back under way and Ecuador have made a double change at half-time. Sarmiento and Cifuentes are on for Gruezo and Franco.

It seems they have switched to a 4-4-2 from a 4-3-3.

04:02 PM

Rate the players

Knock yourselves out...

03:56 PM

HT: Ecuador 0 Senegal 1

From Jim White in the Khalifa International Stadium

Senegal lead at half time after Watford’s Ismaila Sarr stroked a penalty into the corner of the Ecuador net. He had earned the spot kick after being brought down by an agricultural challenge from Piero Hincapie, after he had just flicked the ball beyond the defender with the deftest of touches.

It was no less than Senegal deserved. They have absolutely dominated this game. Their fan band, easily the best at this tournament, did not relent for one moment, banging out a relentless drum roll from the stands, a non stop thump in the guts. And the Senegal players seemed to pick up the rhythm.

They attacked this game at a ferocious pace, allowing Ecuador no time on the ball, closing them down at speed every time the South Americans endeavoured to take possession. Ecuador barely had time to draw breath. Kalidou Koulibaly’s shirt was an indication of Senegal's collective effort: after less than half an hour it was transparent with sweat.

As the turf lay littered with Ecuador bodies felled almost constantly, Senegal had about five good chances before finally finding the net. Idrissa Gueye and Sarr, the outstanding players in the half, both shot wide, as did Sheffield United’s excellent Iliman Ndaiye. When Pathe Ciss headed wide from a freekick, it seemed as if they might never get the reward their play demanded. But Sarr’s penalty achieved some sort of recompense. And as the half ended Ecuador were so far behind, Enner Valencia was left making a pitiful attempt to con the referee into thinking he had been kicked. It fooled no one.

03:53 PM

45+4: Ecuador 0 Senegal 1

Enner Valencia is performing some theatrics as he goes down to try and get Sably into trouble. But there was nothing in it and the referee rightly so is having none of it.

Enner Valencia of Ecuador goes down with an injury during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Ecuador and Senegal at Khalifa International Stadium - Buda Mendes/Getty Inages
Enner Valencia of Ecuador goes down with an injury during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Ecuador and Senegal at Khalifa International Stadium - Buda Mendes/Getty Inages

03:51 PM

45+2: Ecuador 0 Senegal 1

Senegal are certainly up for this and have an immediate opportunity to double their lead. Again Ndiaye is involved and does well to create space for the shot but his effort is blocked.

We are into six minutes of added time at the Khalifa International Stadium

03:48 PM

44 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 1

Goal-  Ismaïla Sarr

He keeps his cool and delivers for this country.The Watford player dusts himself down having won the penalty and sends Galindez the wrong way.

The penalty would normally be taken by Sadio Mane, but the absence of Senegal's star-man didn't seem to matter. As things stand, Senegal are going through as Group A runners-up as it stands.

03:44 PM

42 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 0

Penalty for Senegal!

Sarr does extremely well to get the wrong side of Torres and just as he tries to reach the ball, Hincapie comes in with a clumsy challenge. It is the correct decision from the referee and this is a huge change for Senegal to take the lead.

Ismaila Sarr of Senegal is brought down Piero Hincapie of Ecuador in the box resulting in a penalty during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Ecuador and Senegal - Clive Mason/Getty Images
Ismaila Sarr of Senegal is brought down Piero Hincapie of Ecuador in the box resulting in a penalty during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Ecuador and Senegal - Clive Mason/Getty Images
Ismaila Sarr of Senegal scores their team’s first goal off a penalty during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Ecuador and Senegal at Khalifa International Stadium - Buda Mendes/Getty Images
Ismaila Sarr of Senegal scores their team’s first goal off a penalty during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Ecuador and Senegal at Khalifa International Stadium - Buda Mendes/Getty Images
Ismaila Sarr of Senegal celebrates with teammates after scoring their team’s first goal off a penalty during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Ecuador and Senega - Buda Mendes/Getty Images
Ismaila Sarr of Senegal celebrates with teammates after scoring their team’s first goal off a penalty during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Ecuador and Senega - Buda Mendes/Getty Images

03:43 PM

40 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 0

Throughout this first half, Ndiaye has been everyway! He works the ball into the box from the right-hand side but the move breaks down before they can get a shot off.

03:42 PM

38 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 0

Jakobs launches a free kick into the Ecuadorian box from the right-hand side and Ciss is just metres from it but his header lands on the roof of the net.

03:40 PM

35 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 0

Just as I say Ecuador are getting closer to the Senegal opposition. Aliou Cissé's side are probing again with Dia being the target this time of a long pass. But the ball is a touch long, with the keeper able to gather.

Senegal are struggling to create clear-cut chances following that frantic start.

03:37 PM

32 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 0

Ecuador are settled things in the last few minutes and gaining greater possession. There is still no shot on target for them with Edouard Mendy having a quiet night so far in goal.

03:35 PM

30 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 0

That was good defending from Senegal. As Ecuador try and get their star-man Valencia in behind on the left flank but Koulibaly gets across and makes an excellent tackle. He wins a goal-kick in the process, with the Chelsea man has started well.

03:32 PM

28 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 0

An update from the other game in Group A, Cody Gakpo has given the Netherlands the lead over hosts Qatar. As it stands, this will put the Netherlands two points clear at the top of the table.

You can follow the live coverage right here.

03:29 PM

25 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 0

Again another chance for Senegal! They are really making inroads down the left-channel as Sably wins his header and Sarr is able to shrug off Preciado. He cuts inside and fires his effort on goal, which takes a deflection on it's way out. However, Ecuador's defense clear their lines from the resulting corner.

03:26 PM

23 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 0

After a slight delay with proceedings, Preciado is back up and running for now.

03:24 PM

21 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 0

A worrying sign for Ecuador as their right-back Preciado is down and receiving treatment. On the replay, it looks like he took a blow to the knee whilst in a challenge with Sarr.

03:22 PM

18 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 0

Finally, Ecuador have an opportunity for a counter as Gruezo leads them forward following a conrer. But Ciss is able to get back and make a crucial tackle on the edge of his own box.

03:21 PM

16 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 0

The Ecuador fans are going crazy, every time Enner Valencia gets on the ball. It is incredible to see given he had to be stretchered off in their draw against the Netherlands. He does look sharp enough but it will be interesting to see how long he can last.

03:19 PM

14 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 0

There is Ndiaye again- what an impact he has having on this game! He picks up the ball outside the box and curls it nicely but it's just a few yards wide.

03:15 PM

10 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 0

Star-man Enner Valencia lines up to take the first free-kick of the kick around 30 yards out. However, his ambitious effort is blocked but the ball comes back to him. This time, it's slightly closer to the goal but again his shot hits a Senegal defender.

Enner Valencia of Ecuador takes a free kick Ecuador v Senegal, FIFA World Cup 2022, Group A, Football, Khalifa International Stadium - Dave Shopland/Shutterstock
Enner Valencia of Ecuador takes a free kick Ecuador v Senegal, FIFA World Cup 2022, Group A, Football, Khalifa International Stadium - Dave Shopland/Shutterstock

03:13 PM

8 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 0

Another chance for Senegal and it was an excellent one. It is Ndiaye being involved again as he threads pass to Sably, who through-ball then releases Dia. The striker has such a clear sight on goal but his angled shot from the right-hand side flies wide.

03:10 PM

6 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 0

Senegal are coming forward again and poising a real threat. This time it started down the right flank, with Ndiaye doing well to beat his man and but his low cross is cut out by Torres and the keeper is able to claim the loose ball.

In these opening few minutes, Ecuador look so open.

03:07 PM

4 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 0

From Jim White in the Khalifa International Stadium

For once in this tournament, a stadium looks absolutely packed. Not a seat in the house. Most seats taken by Ecuador supporters. Though there are a surprising number of Mexicans here. Maybe they took the wrong tube...

And the non stop Senegal drummers are at it. You don't get a noise like they make at the Emirates.

03:06 PM

2 min: Ecuador 0 Senegal 0

What a chance and Senegal should be ahead. It was a low cross from the left-wing find the onrushing Gueye in space on the edge of the box. He has the entire goal to aim at but his powerful effort just brushes past the side netting.

Senegal's midfielder #05 Idrissa Gana Gueye reacts to a missed chance during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group A football match between Ecuador and Senegal - Ozan Kose/Getty Images
Senegal's midfielder #05 Idrissa Gana Gueye reacts to a missed chance during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group A football match between Ecuador and Senegal - Ozan Kose/Getty Images

03:02 PM

We're underway

At the Khalifa International Stadium and Senegal need to beat Ecuador to have any certainty of progressing to the knockout stages.

A reminder that the runners up from this group are likely to face England in the last 16!

03:00 PM

From Jim White in the Khalifa International Stadium

Of the three teams from Group A they might face in the last 16, I suspect England would least relish having to meet Ecuador. They play a bit like the USA, busy in midfield, in your face, closing quickly. And we know how the USA undermined England's attacking spirit.

And in Enner Valencia they have the stand out striker of the tournament so far. He has scored all of their goals and looks very dangerous. Mind, Senegal are no mugs either. Oddly, England might be better off meeting the Netherlands, who look about as quick off the mark as Geoff Boycott's old mum.

02:57 PM

The teams are out

And it's national anthem time.

Huge noise from the sizable Ecuadorian contingent.

02:53 PM

Who banks the points today?

In a match, that will decide the fate of both sides in Group A. I'm expecting a tightly fought match that will present chances for both sides.

On this occasion, Ecuador will do just enough to claim a point they need to progress to the knockout rounds.

My prediction is 1-1 draw- now it's your turn, make your prediction below.

02:35 PM

Team news

Great news for Ecuador is that star man and the World Cup's current joint top scorer Enner Valencia has been declared fit despite coming off with a knee injury late on in their 1-1 draw with the Netherlands.

Ecuador have made two changes from their match against the Netherlands with Alan Franco and Carlos Gruezo coming into the midfield for Jackson Porozo and the suspended Jhegson Mendez.

Meanwhile Senegal make three changes for their must-win finale Group A clash as Alou Clisse bring in forward Iliman Ndiaye, Pape Gueye and Pathe Ciss.

Ecudaor XI: Galindez, Angelo Preciado, Torres, Hincapie, Estupinan, Franco, Gruezo, Caicedo, Plata, Estrada, Valencia.

Substitues: Arboleda. Cifuentes, Pacho, Ayrton, Preciado, Ibarra, Ramirez, Arreaga, Mena, Sarmiento, Palacios, Dominguez, Reasco, Porozo, Rodriguez.

Senegal XI: E Mendy, Sabaly, Koulibaly, Jakobs, Diallo, Ciss, I Gueye, Ndiaye, P Gueye, I Sarr, Dia.

Substitutes: S Dieng, N Mendy, Cisse, F Mendy, Jackson, N'Diaye, Ballo-Toure, Diatta, P Sarr, Diedhiou, A Dieng, Gomis, Name, Loum.

Ecuador's Enner Valencia is attended by medical personnel during the World Cup group A soccer match between Netherlands and Ecuador, at the Khalifa International Stadium - Darko Vojinovic/AP
Ecuador's Enner Valencia is attended by medical personnel during the World Cup group A soccer match between Netherlands and Ecuador, at the Khalifa International Stadium - Darko Vojinovic/AP

02:25 PM

Good afternoon

Welcome to Telegraph's Sport live coverage of this Group A clash between Senegal and Ecuador live from the Khalifa International Stadium with kick-off at 3pm (UK time)

By Associated Press

Enner Valencia has scored Ecuador's last six World Cup goals, so there's no understating how worried his country is after he was carried off the field on a stretcher against the Netherlands.

Ecuador hopes that the 33-year-old striker's troublesome knees are ok for a decisive final group match against Senegal.He hurt his right knee against the Netherlands after spraining his left knee in the first game against Qatar.

He was up and walking a little while after that stretcher ride with an ice pack strapped to his right leg and coach Gustavo Alfaro said Monday that Valencia might be ready to start against Senegal, although he could have to come off the bench.

"He has a big heart and he wants to be in every battle with our national team," Alfaro said. "He wants to be there. He's an extraordinary player and we'll try and get him ready."

Ecuador captain has three goals in two games in Qatar and is clearly key to its chances of reaching the knockout stage for only the second time. He scored three in three games in Ecuador's last World Cup appearance in 2014, but that wasn't enough to advance in Brazil.

They have a slight advantage this time by needing a win or a draw to be certain of going through. Senegal has to win to be sure of advancing.

A victory by host Qatar over the Netherlands would make other permutations possible in Group A but that result is seen as unlikely given the Qataris' struggles. They have already been eliminated.

A prolonged stay at the World Cup would put more strain on Valencia's knees and an ongoing ankle problem but he'd take the pain for some World Cup joy after 10 years of service to the national team.

The young Ecuador team beat hosts Qatar 2-0 in the tournament's opening game and then stretched the favored Netherlands in a 1-1 draw. The performances were both impressive but may be forgotten if Ecuador doesn't follow them up by sealing qualification.

"There's such a thin line between qualifying and not," Alfaro said. "If we don't qualify people will say we haven't done our job and if we do, people will be euphoric. Hopefully we will go through because we deserve it."

While Ecuador holds out hope for Valencia's fitness, Senegal is already two games into life without its best player.

Sadio Mane's injury just two weeks before the World Cup forced the African champions to reconfigure their forward line and their entire game plan.

It was still a work in progress in an opening 2-0 loss to Netherlands but Senegal came closer to fully adjusting to Mane's absence when forwards Boulaye Dia, Famara Diedhiou and Bamba Dieng all scored in a 3-1 win over Qatar to revive Senegal's chances.

Senegal, ranked No. 18 in the world and fresh from winning the African Cup of Nations title in February, would normally be the clear favorite over the inexperienced No. 44 Ecuador, even with Valencia's extraordinary run of scoring in four of his country's last five World Cup games.

It's never so simple at a World Cup and certainly not at this one after third-ranked Argentina lost to Saudi Arabia and second-ranked Belgium fell to Morocco.

Senegal has the added pressure of the last World Cup in 2018. Then, the team missed out on a place in the last 16 after losing to Colombia, another South American team, in the final set of group games when a draw would have been enough. Senegal finished level on points with Japan but was eliminated because it had more yellow cards.

"We're dealing with the pressure and the stress. For me, it's a good stress," Senegal coach Aliou Cisse said. "We are not going to overthink it. There are no two ways about it, we have to win the game to advance."

Stay-tuned as we bring you team news, build-up, match coverage and reaction.