Highly-rated youngster Cody Gakpo announced himself to the world as Netherlands claimed a narrow 2-0 win over Senegal in their 2022 FIFA World Cup clash. The Teranga Lions lost their opener despite impressing for sustained periods at the Al Thumama Stadium.
With the enforced absence through injury of talismanic forward Sadio Mane, Senegal were up against a Netherlands side who were aiming to make a statement in their first FIFA World Cup match since 2014. The Oranje were at full strength for the clash and looked to claim the win.
Both sides struggled to gain the upper hand in the opening exchanges as they tested each other out. The Dutch got the first clear sight of goal as some impressive passing sent PSV captain Cody Gakpo through, but the young forward chose to pass instead of shooting, but the pass was too far ahead of Steven Bergwijn.
Senegal threatened through the pacey Ismaila Sarr shortly after. The Watford man eased past Denzel Dumfries before firing a goal-bound effort which was blocked by Virgil Van Dijk.
Both sides continued to play the game without really causing problems for each other until the final stages of the match.
A cross from Frenkie De Jong was misjudged by Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, who was caught in two minds as to whether to stay on his line or claim the ball. By the time he decided, Gakpo was able to leap above Mendy’s half-hearted attempt to punch the ball clear and head his side into the lead in the 85th minute.
Netherlands rounded off the scoring in the ninth minute of added time through Ajax midfielder Davy Klaassen. The 29-year-old was on hand to tap home from close range after Mendy parried a shot from Memphis Depay into his path.
Senegal have their work cut out after their loss to Netherlands leaves them at the bottom of Group A after the opening matchday. Ecuador top the group ahead of the Netherlands after their 2-0 win over hosts Qatar. The African champions will have to deliver improved performances against Qatar and Ecuador to rescue their campaign.