Host nation Qatar are perilously close to crashing out of the World Cup after they slumped to a 3-1 defeat by Senegal at the Al Thumama Stadium on Friday, despite Mohammed Muntari netting a first-ever World Cup finals goal for the Qataris.
A win or a draw for Netherlands against Ecuador, who beat Qatar in the tournament’s opening game, later on Friday will see the Qataris become the first side mathematically eliminated from the competition.
The opening-night nerves were nowhere to be seen as Qatar quickly got to grips with Senegal and they should have had a penalty when Ismaila Sarr bundled over Akram Afif, but Spanish referee Antonio Mateu waved away their pleas and the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) did not intervene.
With Qatar defending well, it was going to take either a moment of magic or a catastrophic mistake for Senegal to break the deadlock, and unfortunately for Qatar defender Boualem Khoukhi, it turned out to be the latter.
His attempt to clear a routine low pass into the box by Krepin Diatta went disastrously wrong as he went to ground without making proper contact with the ball.
Khoukhi’s fluffed effort allowed Dia to pounce, and the 26-year-old striker needed no second invitation to rattle the ball in at the near post to give Senegal the lead.
With the Qatari crowd thinned out somewhat at the start of the second half, Famara Diedhou doubled Senegal’s advantage with a brilliant glancing header from an Ismail Jakobs corner in the 48th minute.
Muntari reduced the deficit in the 78th with a bullet header from Ismail Mohamad’s cross but Senegal substitute Bamba Dieng swept home his side’s third to consign Qatar to the bottom of Group A with no points, while their group rivals all have three.