After a promising start to the tournament, Ecuador's World Cup is suddenly over following Tuesday's heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Senegal in their Group A finale.
With four points from their first two matches, La Tri only needed a draw to reach the Round of 16. But things didn't go according to plan at Khalifa International Stadium, partially due to the forced absence of Sebastián Méndez. The LAFC midfielder – a key presence in their previous games (2-0 win over Qatar; 1-1 draw with the Netherlands) – was suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
Senegal opened the scoring shortly before halftime when, after being fouled inside the box by Piero Hincapié, Ismaïla Sarr converted the ensuing penalty to put Senegal up in the 44th minute.
LAFC midfielder José Cifuentes came on after the break and Ecuador grabbed a 67th-minute equalizer when Moisés Caicedo poked home a corner kick from close range. But the African side responded just three minutes later through a set piece of their own, as Chelsea defender Kalidou Koulibaly scored to ultimately seal Ecuador's elimination.
Group B awaits
Senegal, even without Bayern Munich star Sadio Mane (injured), are into the Round of 16 after finishing second in Group A. They're behind the Netherlands, who took the top spot after defeating Qatar 2-0 on Tuesday.
Both nations now await the results of Tuesday's nightcaps, with USA vs. Iran and England vs. Wales determining who'll move on from Group B to create the tournament's first knockout stage matches.