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West African country Senegal got off to a winning campaign at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar against the Netherlands on the losing side with late goals from Davy Klaassen and Cody Gakpo.

The Teranga Lions, having shown character of gallantness, had battled the Dutch almost the entire duration of the match before the late goals. The early stages of the first half was attestation of their intent with a left footed effort from Boulave Dia which was blocked after a brilliant pass from Ismaila Sarr.

In the ninth minute Senegal came close to scoring with another effort from Sarr but his lack of precision through his left foot kick saw the ball high above the post. Obviously, the absence of Liverpool striker Sadio Mane who is out of the World Cup due injury showed lack of intense pressure from the African champions.

The Dutch realising urgent need to get the rhythm of the game to their favour after a handful of early misses from the Senegalese came close to breaking the deadlock in the 17th minute through a Daley Blind effort. It missed a close target inside the box.

Virgil van Dijk’s experience took dominance of the Orange tactical play, pushing the midfield to join the attack with good exchange of passes. Vincent Janssen, having had an opportunity two minutes after the 17 minute effort inside the box, could have done better. His attempted shot was blocked!

Although the defense of Senegal could be applauded for socking the pressure, another was -thanks to Virgil Van Dijk header in the 27th minute which went off target after he was left unmarked.

The match went on with the first half finishing goalless, obviously a half that Senegal missed their talisman Sadio Mane.

On resumption of the second half after an evenly balanced first half, both teams were cautious in search of the opening goal. The Netherlands were slightly creative in play, holding on to the ball with precision and good ball control. This unsettled the Senegalese which Frenkie de Jong was excellent in dictating the pace for the Dutch.

Despite the disciplined play of the Orange men, the Teranga Lions had opportunities to seal the game, and the most missed was Boulave Dia’s right footed shot from the right side of the box which was saved from the bottom right corner.

The Dutch goalkeeper’s agility and stretching strength delighted the spectators as he made brilliant saves and he was applauded by the crowd. It didn’t take long before Lious Van Gaal’s men pressed back for the moment that made the difference in the game.

Senegal’s goalkeeper, Mendy who had committed some positioning and timing errors in the match was beaten in the 84 minute after a decent cross from Frenkie de Jong for a header. That! Cody Gakpo did with onrushing Mendy beaten on flight to deliver the first goal for the Dutch.

Another was added within the twilight of the game after Pape Guaye almost leveled the score for Senegal with substitute Memphis Depay left footed shot that was pushed before on rushing Clarkson fired to net in the second goal. That sealed victory for the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, the Teranga Lions will battle Qatar on Friday while Netherlands will face Ecuador who defeated Qatar 2-0 in the opening Group A tournament match. 

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