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Senegal see off Qatar to boost hopes

Senegal are the first African side to win at the 2022 World Cup after surviving the threat of a second half Qatar comeback.

The Africans were the better side for large parts of the first half on Friday, dominating possession as well as the shot count, but perhaps the most dangerous attack of the opening 35 minutes came at the other end, only for Akram Afif to go to ground rather than getting a shot away. Referee Mateu Lahoz was not interested in the host’s claims for a penalty.

That broke up any momentum Senegal had been building but they were handed the opener on a platter. A hopeful flat ball into the box did not look dangerous at first but Qatar’s Boualem Khoukhi fluffed his attempted clearance and could not react as quickly as Boulaye Dia, who pounced on the ball to drive it inside the near post.

It didn’t take Senegal long after the break to double their lead, as a dangerous Ismail Jakobs corner was met by Famara Diédhiou, brilliantly angled his body at the near post to direct a stooping header inside the far post.

Qatar responded well, with Abdelkarim Hassan going close from long range before Almoez Ali finally called Édouard Mendy into action from the edge of the box. That seemed to wake the hosts up but, unfortunately for them, it did the same for Mendy, who reacted brilliantly to deny Ismael Mohamed low down after the defender had directed a cross goalwards.

The threat was not over there and Qatar finally got their first World Cup goal when Mohammed Muntari powered a header home from a cross from the right. But any hope of a comeback was short-lived. Senegal pushed on and some combination saw Iliman Ndiaye free on the right. His perfect cutback was slotted home by Bamba Dieng.

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