Hosts Qatar had a World Cup debut to forget on Sunday evening as they were beaten 2-0 by Ecuador. Playing in their first ever World Cup tournament, it was quickly made clear that Qatar’s level is someway off the teams they have been placed in Group A alongside, and some even wondered whether they would have qualified had they not been automatically granted a place. The hosts conceded within the opening five minutes against Ecuador but were saved after a lengthy VAR review that had found an offside in the build up to Enner Valencia’s strike.
But Qatar couldn’t keep Valencia out. By half-time, the former West Ham United man had put Ecuador 2-0 up and that would be how the game ended, rooting Qatar to the bottom of the group. The defeat not only game Qatar a mountain to climb ahead of two tough matches but also made them the first World Cup hosts to lose their opening match, ending the 22-tournament streak.
For the first 80 minutes of their match against Netherlands, Senegal looked strong and on course for a point but in the end they followed Qatar with a 2-0 defeat. Goals from Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaassen condemned Senegal who will now look to this match as a chance for them to get their quest for a last 16 spot up and running.
At the World Cup for just the third time, Senegal had won both of their previous tournament openers, beating France in 2002 and Poland in 2018 – but those two tournaments ended in very different fashion. In 2002, Senegal made it to the quarter-finals before losing to Turkey on golden goal while last time out in Russia they were knocked out of the group stage on fair play, picking up more bookings than Japan. If it comes to that again, Senegal have already received two yellow cards.
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Senegal were always going to miss Sadio Mane’s presence up front but without the Bayern Munich man they looked pretty toothless. While they outshot Netherlands by 15-10 in their opening match, just four hit the target, with an xG of 0.8. Qatar were even worse in their opening game against Ecuador, managing just five shots with none on target and an xG of 0.32.
As mentioned, it was the late show in Senegal’s 2-0 defeat to Netherlands and they were resolute defensively for most of the match. In the first half alone, Senegal restricted Netherlands to just five shots, while Qatar had just two efforts in their opening 45 minutes vs Ecuador.