Netherlands’ Two Late Goals Vs. Senegal Brings Oranje Atop Group A
Netherlands put together some of their best 15 minutes of soccer to beat Senegal 2-0 in its 2022 World Cup opener.
Playing at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, the top-ranked African team was without star forward Sadio Mané. Mané, the second-place finisher in this past year’s Ballon d’Or standings, injured his leg earlier this month in a club match with Bayern Munich and ultimately needed surgery, sidelining him for the entirety of the tournament.
Despite his absence, Senegal put up a good fight against the Netherlands, testing their stacked backline led by Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt. Senegal got off four shots on goal through 80 minutes of play and kept Dutch goalkeeper Andries Noppert on his toes.
As the clock moved into the final 10 minutes of play, a draw seemed increasingly inevitable. However, the Oranje had something else in mind.
In the 82nd minute, the Netherlands got the ball into the danger zone and bided their time before midfielder Frenkie De Jong crossed the ball for a streaking Cody Gakpo. Gakpo’s header just beat the outstretched arms of Senegalese goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to break the tie.
Senegal added another shot on goal and did their best to mount a comeback, but the Netherlands found another goal in the closing moments of an eight-minute stoppage time.
Memphis Depay got out in transition and launched a line-drive pass past Senegal’s backline, only to be stopped by the heroics of Mendy. Fortunately for the Netherlands, Davy Klaassen was there for the ricochet and found the back of the net, despite Mendy getting a hand on the second attempt.
Netherlands secured the win, while Senegal found itself in a 2-0 deficit.
Both Senegal and the Netherlands still have to face off against Ecuador and Qatar to round out their Group A play. Ecuador beat the host country in the tournament opener on Sunday 2-0.