Mendy disappoints, Sarr impresses as Netherlands edge Senegal in their World Cup opener

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Edouard Mendy of Senegal against the Netherlands.
Edouard Mendy’s two errors proved costly as Senegal lost their opening World Cup game 2-0 to the Netherlands on Monday.

  • Mendy’s twin errors handed the Netherlands the win
  • Sarr had a good game on the left wing for Senegal
  • Teranga Lions now face must-win games against Qatar and Ecuador

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WHAT HAPPENED? Mendy had failed to deal with a cross in the box, allowing Cody Gakpo to score the first goal for the Netherlands. Then he later spilt Memphis Depay's shot, with Davy Klaassen firing in to make it 2-0 deep into added time.

However, that was after Watford winger Ismaila Sarr had been a thorn in the flesh of the Dutch defence.

Sarr started from the off as he danced past Denzel Dumfries in the first minute before teeing up striker Boulaye Dia whose shot was tame.

He nearly scored later in the first half when he beat Dumfries again before finding space on the edge of the box but his powerful shot was headed out by Virgil van Dijk and he got on the wrong side of Matthijs de Ligt a few minutes later, put in a good pass in behind the Netherlands defence but there was no one to capitalise.

He also created Senegal’s best chance in the second half when he set up Idrissa Gueye on the edge of the box but the Everton man sent in a powerful shot directly at the keeper.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Senegal had been seen as underdogs before kickoff but they gave a good account of themselves before the late setback.

Aliou Cisse started with an experienced side that had Mendy in goal and captain Kalidou Koulibaly marshalling the defence while his midfield had the tried and tested of Gueye, Cheikhou Kouyate and Nampalys Mendy.

Sarr, preferred on the left side of Senegal’s attack in the absence of the injured Sadio Mane, was the standout player while Dia and Krepin Diatta had little impact on the game in attack before they were replaced later in the second half.

The game also proved more costly for Senegal as they lost experienced midfielder Kouyate and left-back Abdou Diallo to injury, the former stretched off while the latter limped off the pitch, a big worry for Cisse, whose side will need better results against Qatar and Ecuador to advance from Group A.

ALL EYES ON: Deployed on the left wing to replace Mane, Watford winger Sarr was a constant threat in the game with everything positive from the Teranga Lions going forward coming from him.

THE VERDICT: While Senegal were solid in midfield and defence, they badly missed Mane as Dia and Diatta rarely troubled the Netherlands' defence and also failed to capitalise on the numerous chances created by Sarr.

WHAT’S NEXT? Senegal will hope to get their first win of the tournament against hosts Qatar on Friday.