Kalidou Koulibaly’s 70th minute winner saw Senegal defeat Ecuador 2-1 to qualify for the Round of 16 at 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Ismaila Sarr put Senegal in front from a 44th minute penalty after he was fouled by Piero Hincapie, which put Senegal on course for the Last 16.
Moises Caicedo equalised in the 68th minute from close-range to give Ecuador hope but Koulibaly struck from a free-kick block two minutes later, which ultimately won Senegal the tie despite enduring a nervy finish.
Senegal finished second in Group A and will face the winner of Group B in Round of 16, after goals from Cody Gakpo and Frenkie De Jong ensured Netherlands defeated Qatar 2-0 to top Group A, with the Dutch now set to face the runner-up of Group B next.
Knowing that only victory would see them advance, Senegal made the better start as Idrissa Gueye put a shot wide after just five minutes.
Iliman Ndiaye, Boulaye Dia and Gueye then all wasted chances as Senegal proceeded to dominate a hard-pressing Ecuadorian team, who struggled to create anything clinical in the opening 42 minutes.
Within that dominance, Ndiaye wasted the best chance as he cut in from the right flank in the 12th minute but curled wide of the top-left corner.
Senegal’s pressure eventually paid off in the 43rd minute as Sarr collided with Hincapie, who ultimately sent him tumbling to the ground to win a spot-kick.
Sarr quickly regrouped to step up and calmly fire the penalty beyond Hernan Galindez into the bottom right corner, which lifted Senegal up to second in the group at half-time behind Netherlands who were leading Qatar through Gakpo’s 26th minute strike and top of Group A.
Ecuador manager, Gustavo Alfaro opted to substitute Alan Franco and Carlos Gruezo for Jeremy Sarmiento and Jose Cifuentes at half-time, which immediately added extra energy as Cifuentes saw his 48th minute shot saved by Edouard Mendy.
Both teams thereafter traded chances in a competitive contest until Gonzalo Plata drew a 66th minute foul from Gueye, which allowed Caicedo to bundle in from the consquential free-kick two minutes later to put a Last 16 spot back in Ecuador’s hands.
Senegal however quickly hit back with a free-kick of their own two minutes later from which Pervis Estupinan could only block down into the path of Koulibaly, and the Chelsea defender swiftly smashed in from close-range to swing the tie back towards the Lions of Teranga.
Dia then missed a chance to secure Senegal’s spot in the Last 16 as he rifled over the bar in the 82nd minute, as he and his fellow Lions dug deep to secure a Round of 16 tie against the winner of Group B which will be played on Sunday 4 December at 10pm AST local time.
Ecuador: Hernan Galindez, Angelo Preciado (Porozo 85′), Felix Torres, Piero Hincapié, Pervis Estupinan, Alan Franco (Sarmiento 45′), Carlos Gruezo (Cifuentes 45′), Moises Caicedo, Gonzalo Plata, Michael Estrada (Reasco 64′), Enner Valencia
Substitutes: Robert Arboleda, Jose Cifuentes, Diego Pacho, Ayrton Preciado, Romario Ibarra, Moises Ramirez, Xavier Arreaga, Angel Mena, Jeremy Sarmiento, Diego Palacois, Jhegson Mendez, Alexander Dominguez, Djorkaeff Reasco, Jackson Porozo, Kevin Rodriguez
Senegal: Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly, Abdou Diallo, Ismail Jakobs, Youssouf Sabaly, Pape Gueye, Idrissa Gueye, Pathe Ciss (Mendy 74′), Ismaila Sarr, Iliman Ndiaye (Dieng 75′), Boulaye Dia (Cisse 90+5′)
Substitutes: Seny Dieng, Alfred Gomis, Formose Mendy, Pape Cisse, Moussa N’Diaye, Fode Ballo-Toure, Nampalys Mendy, Krepin Diatta, Pape Matar Sarr, Moustapha Name, Bamba Dieng, Famara Diedhiou, Nicolas Jackson
Referee: Clement Turpin (France)