• Second-half goals from Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaassen gave the European side 2-0 victory in Al-Thumama Stadium.
Earlier, the Netherlands named uncapped goalkeeper Andries Noppert in their starting line-up against Senegal who opted for Krepin Diatta as the replacement for Sadio Mane. Senegal turned to Diatta to replace injured talisman Mane on the left side of their attack with Boulaye Dia given the striking role. They had nine players from their Africa Cup of Nations winning squad in their starting line-up.
The Africans looked organised in defence and posing a threat going forward in the first half. And that’s no surprise given their pedigree (AFCON winners, best defence at last two AFCONs, went through qualifying unbeaten).
After, playing out a scoreless draw in the first period, the Netherlands broke away quickly in the second half, and Berghuis’s shot from the edge of the box goes flying over the bar.
Pa Abou Cisse also had an early chance for the Africa Cup of Nations champions — missing injured talisman Sadio Mane – while Ismaila Sarr was thwarted by Virgil van Dijk.
Frenkie de Jong went closest for Louis van Gaal’s side, but though the Dutch grew into the contest, they failed to hit the target with any of their five shots before the break.
It was a reasonably absorbing halves between two decent sides but the African champions failed to hold the European side in the second half, conceding a disappointing defeat in their group opener.
Ismaila Sarr, Senegal appeared as one of the most dangerous player on the pitch. He gave Matthijs De Ligt a very torrid time of it and his team-mates needed to get him on the ball more.
Senegal never played as underdogs but they were unable to make the most of their dominance against Van Gaals side.
However, a brilliantly timed run saw Cody Gakpo get in behind the Senegal defence to connect with a De Jong cross and steer a glancing header past the onrushing Edouard Mendy from the edge of the six-yard box in the 84th minute.
It was a well taken by Gakpo, who showed courage in leaping for the header knowing that he was almost certain to get clattered from behind by the advancing Edouard Mendy before Davy Klaasen’s late goal.
The African champions will have to recover and beat the host nation, Qatar in their next contest in Group A to keep their hopes alive before their clash against Ecuador.
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