While Senegal and the Netherlands appeared to clearly be the top two teams in Group A, there now appears a substantial gap between even those teams. Louis van Gaal stated before this match that his team had the quality to go far in this tournament, and they demonstrated as much over the course of 90 plus minutes.
After a long match where Senegal certainly had many chances - more in general and on target than the Dutch - the loss of Sadio Mane appears ever more terrible for this Lions squad by the match. While chances existed, the finishing was lacking, and will have to be something this team corrects before the next match against hosting nation Qatar.
But, it was a very smart header by rising Dutch star Cody Gakpo - who Everton have previously been linked with - that put the Oranje up in the 84’. Yellow cards for midfielder Nampalys Mendy and Idrissa Gana Gueye in the 94’ and 96’ highlighted the evening before Davy Klaassen punctuated the affair in the 99’. The Dutch have so many weapons, and with a very famous boss backing this team to succeed, they appear poised to try their best in that vein.
Gana lined up in a position much further forward than he usually does at Everton where he is deployed as a holding midfielder. Deployed as almost the #10 in a 4-2-3-1, he saw plenty of the ball and his distribution was very good as Senegal threatened to run away with the game. Frank Lampard would certainly have been interested in watching this performance from Gueye.
Whether in a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1, Gueye has qualities that can shine even on an injury-wracked team on the brightest of bright stages; his performances match in and match out for club and country demonstrate as much, and Everton do have a higher ceiling with his return from France over this past summer.
For the Dutch meanwhile, they will look to carry the momentum forward against Ecuador, whose victory against host-nation Qatar has put them in a promising position early on to make it beyond the three matches of Group Stage A. After all is said and done, a draw for Ecuador would be massive against the Dutch, while Senegal must handle Qatar to remain with a clear chance at finding their way to the next round of competition.