The Netherlands defeat Senegal 2-0 at the Al Thumama Stadium in their 2022 World Cup opener thanks to two late goals. While the bulk of Monday's Group A match was dull, Cody Gakpo's goal six minutes from time gave Netherlands the lead.
When eight minutes of additional time were signalled, Senegal thought there could be a chance to tie the score, but Davy Klaasen secured the points in the final seconds.
Prior to their matchup on Friday, Netherlands and Ecuador are tied on points after Ecuador easily defeated the hosts Qatar 2-0 on Sunday. Both teams got off to a strong start, with Boulaye Dia of Senegal having a shot deflected over the crossbar
Cody Gakpo missing a teammate with a cutback when he probably could have taken the chance himself. Ismaila Sarr also missed with a shot for the Lions of Teranga before the ten-minute mark, while Daley Blind missed with a header at the back post after rising to meet a cross.
The game remained open as Frenkie de Jong was discovered in the area with plenty of room, but the Barcelona midfielder took too much time and was unable to get a shot off.
As the game approached the halfway point, the momentum swung back and forth. Sarr displayed brilliant ability on the edge of the box before seeing his goal-bound shot brilliantly blocked by Virgil van Dijk.
The next half hour saw both teams work harder than before, but chances at either end entirely dried up as Sadio Mane and Memphis Depay were conspicuously absent from both teams. Only a header from Van Dijk came close for the Netherlands.
After the 60-minute mark had passed, Depay was quickly introduced, but Senegal created the next opportunity when Dia's effort into the near corner was parried away by rookie Andries Noppert.
Both teams seemed content with a point each, and the game appeared to be stalling, but De Jong and Gakpo finally added some interest to a dull second half.
Gakpo ran perfectly into the path of De Jong's inswinging cross with six minutes left, beating goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to the ball to smash a header into an empty net.
Naturally, Senegal immediately launched an attack, and Pape Gueye's low long-range attempt compelled Noppert to dive to his left and tip the ball wide.
Senegal's continued forward movement created extra room at the opposing end of the field, and Netherlands took advantage of this opening to score again in the ninth minute of added time.
Mendy parried Depay's feeble curling attempt, but Klaasen was there to score from close rangeto secure what might turn out to be a crucial victory towards the end of the group.
For more Sports updates please follow us on Twitter