There was no doubt Sadio Mane’s absence will affect Senegal in their World Cup opener against Netherlands as African giants sank in opening game.
But despite Mane’s missing general impact, Aliou Cisse’s side made a heavy start against Netherlands dominating in the first 12 minutes of the remaining Group A game.
Senegal failed to break the deadlock but the likes of Ismaïla Sarr, Nampalys Mendy, Idrissa Gana Gueye and Krepin Diatta were impressive in Netherlands final third throughout the first half.
Netherlands walked into the party and Delay Blind nearly put them ahead after raising above Senegal’s defense to produced a header that missed the left posts.
Netherland broke again on the right flank after Janssen’s pass finally made way to Frenkie de Jong inside the box, the Barcelona midfielder should have scored from his advantageous position but there were too many touches to the ball as Senegal recover the chance.
Ismaïla Sarr came close to putting Senegal ahead but his curler from edge of the box that was running into the top right corner was block to a corner by Virgil van Dijk. The resultant corner was wasted.
Senegal continued to press Netherland but the protracted African attacking problem was evident impeding opener for the AFCON champions. There was poor player positioning up front, movement and the perfect connection between the ball holder and the front-liner as Netherland looked relax in the moment though there were times they needed to block some dangerous delivery into the posts.
Netherlands finally got the surprising breakthrough after Frenkie de Jong lofted a pass over for Cody Gakpo to head beyond Édouard Menday 6′ minutes to full time.
Netherland wrapped victory after Davy Klaassen scored from Memphis Depay’s rebound in stoppage time.