World Cup hosts Qatar eliminated with a whimper after 3-1 defeat to Senegal
World Cup hosts Qatar are staring down the barrel of an early exit from the tournament after suffering a 3-1 defeat to Senegal.
With Boulaye Dia and Famara Diedhiou having put Senegal in control, Qatar had hope when Mohammed Muntari scored their first World Cup goal.
However, it was too little too late for the hosts, with substitute Bamba Dieng rounding off Senegal's victory six minutes from time.
After a bright start from Senegal, the lively Qatar fans gathered behind Edouard Mendy's goal were furious in the 34th minute, when Akram Afif was bundled over by Ismaila Sarr, but referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz waved away the seemingly valid penalty appeals.
Yet just as they had grown into the game, Qatar were made to pay for Boualem Khoukhi's calamitous error, with his failed clearance falling to Dia, who made no mistake with a composed finish.
269 - #Senegal have ended a run of 269 minutes without scoring at the #WorldCup, their longest scoring drought since 124 minutes from June 16, 2002 to June 19, 2018. Lions.#FIFAWorldCup #FIFAWorldCup2022 pic.twitter.com/VTlndy8LHf— OptaJose (@OptaJose) November 25, 2022
Qatar's hopes were dealt a further blow three minutes into the second half – Diedhiou turning in Ismail Jakobs' inswinging corner.
Senegal had Mendy to thank for two excellent stops as Qatar searched for a goal back, the Chelsea goalkeeper brilliantly denying Almoez Ali and Ismaeel Mohammad.
Muntari's superb header four minutes after coming on set up a grandstand finish, yet Dieng swept home to strike the decisive blow and leave Qatar on the brink.
What does it mean? Little hope for hosts
Qatar won the Asian Cup in 2019, and given they had three more years to build ahead of this tournament, they would have been hoping to put on a show on home turf.
Yet for all their endeavour, the hosts have so far lacked the quality required.
Defeat leaves Qatar on the verge of an exit. They will be out should Ecuador and the Netherlands draw in Friday's other Group A game, or if the Oranje win.
The only way Qatar can now progress is by hoping Louis van Gaal's team slip up, and then go on to beat the Netherlands themselves in their final group match next week. Even that might not be enough.
Senegal find their shooting boots
Shorn of star forward Sadio Mane, Senegal and coach Aliou Cisse have had to rely on the back-up brigade in Qatar.
They stepped up and delivered on Friday, with Dia's opener ending a run of 31 shots without a goal at the World Cup, a streak of 269 minutes.
Blunt Qatar pay the price
Ali's shot, saved by Mendy, midway through the second half was Qatar's first attempt on target of the tournament.
They ultimately finished with three efforts on target in this match, but the lack of composure in front of goal – and the shortage of creativity to get there on many occasions – was evident.
Qatar round off their group campaign against the Netherlands, and could already be out by the time that match starts on Tuesday, while Senegal face Ecuador.