Senegal v Netherlands: Group A Match Stats

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Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaassen scored as the Netherlands pulled back late to secure victory over Senegal, the African champions. Jonathan Wilson reporting from Al Thumama Stadium.

Cody Gakpo celebrates after scoring for the Netherlands. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Story

It started as a story of two centre-forwards and ended as a game between two goalkeepers. As the Netherlands opened their World Cup season with a 2-0 win over Senegal, it looked like the absence of Sadio Mane and Memphis Depay from the starting XI would be a factor. But in the end it was two keepers, Dutch debutant Andries Noppert, who put in a good performance and Senegal’s Edouard Mendy, who didn’t.

Things seem to be going well for Senegal. With their fans drumming behind Aliou Cissé’s bench, it sounded like a Nations Cup game and looked like a Nations Cup game for a long time. Its width is minuscule, bodies are bumping into each other in the center of the crowd and there is only the faintest feeling that a goal is about to fall.

When one finally arrived, with six minutes remaining, it was for Holland and Mendy to blame. He also failed to impress with the crucial second that ensured the game entered injury time.

Cody Gakpo (centre) receives a loving embrace after scoring the Netherlands’ winner over Senegal. Photograph: Noushad Thekkayil/EPA

With three strong central midfielders, Senegal mostly fended off the Netherlands, but when Frenkie de Jong had time to measure his cross from the left, Mendy was slow to react, allowing Cody Gakpo to have the ball first and head it into the net.

Depay, who came off the bench just after the hour, was then sent off at the break as Senegal watched the play and Mendy gently fired a low shot at Davy Klaassen.

The contrast was stark considering Senegal had the better than few clear chances they had before. The Netherlands have struggled so much with goalkeeping lately that Remko Pasveer, a 39-year-old who had never played a game before, had started in their last two games before the World Cup, but Knoppert looked like a brilliant choice – enough Louis van Gaal, I bet. As Knoppert acknowledged, no one else would have voted for him.

The story is amazing. Knoppert is 28 years old but has only played 45 league games. A late adopter, he was briefly without a club after leaving Dordrecht in 2020 when his family asked him to stop playing football.

It’s also good for Holland that he ignored it. Noppert made a great low save early in the second half to parry Boulaye Dia on turn, made a much more spectacular block to deny Idrissa Gueye from the edge of the box with fifteen minutes remaining, and then made a low save wide on his right to hold off the ranger. long-range Pape Gueye just after the Netherlands took the lead.

“He has an open personality,” said van Gaal, who was visibly amused that Knoppert said in a post-match interview that he looked like his manager.

“He’s quite direct and open, maybe that’s what he meant, but that doesn’t mean he can coach. His quality is that he can stop the ball and he did it perfectly three times today.

Van Gaal himself is usually direct and open. “Frankie de Jong? It wasn’t his best game but he managed the win and that was Frenkie de Jong. It was a very difficult game for us.

“We didn’t have many problems when the opponents had the ball, but I wasn’t happy with our possession, we weren’t accurate and ran too much with the ball.”

It is partially played by Senegal. “We deserved at least a point in this game,” said their coach Cisse. “We had a clear plan from the start. We had plans to push them far forward, but in the end we had to step back a bit. We had chances but we didn’t score.”

He felt his side lacked intensity after Sheikhoou Kouyate was forced off with a sprained ankle and he will also have to wait for left back Abdou Diallo, who limped off with a muscle strain, to regain fitness.

However, Senegal’s biggest injury problem is undoubtedly Mane’s absence. Cisse acknowledged it was a “problem” but insisted that “the players who played did what was expected of them”, in particular by “stopping their attacks down the flanks”. At least Van Gaal had the chance to introduce Depay who he praised for being extra “accurate”.

Next up for Senegal is Qatar, which is certainly not as bad as they lost to Ecuador on Sunday. “If you lose the first game,” said Cisse, “then the second game will be like a final.”

Qualification remains within reach but the Netherlands rule the group.

credit: google

Group A Points Table 21 Nov 2022

Fifa Group A Points Table 21 Nov 2022
Credit: Google

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