First, the bad news.
Edouard Mendy continues to search for the form that made him the world’s best goalkeeper in 2021, and unfortunately continues to come up empty in that search. He was culpable in both late goals Senegal conceded against the Netherlands in their first match of the tournament, dooming the Champions of Africa to a 2-0 defeat following a stellar defensive effort that limited the Dutch to few chances and no clear cut opportunities.
But the Netherlands would score with their first shot on target, with Mendy literally beaten to the punch by Cody Gakpo’s header in the 84th minute, then add a second late in stoppage time, after Mendy spilled (or parried, I suppose) a rebound into the path of Davy Klaassen. Senegal, especially without Sadio Mane, set out to keep things tight at the back, which was the recipe for their Africa Cup of Nations triumph as well, but that plan did not work in this game.
It was a disappointing result for Senegal overall, but hopefully they can put together a better showing against Ecuador and Qatar.
Speaking of putting together better showings, the US will also have to play a bit better against Iran and England if they want to progress into the knockout rounds, after conceding a late equalizer to Wales in a 1-1 draw.
The not so bad news is that the US took the lead just past the half-hour mark thanks to a rather brilliant assist from Christian Pulisic for Timmy Weah (son of George Weah, former Chelsea loan player and current president of Liberia), but Wales — for whom Ethan Ampadu gritted out almost the full 90 — were the better team in the second half and eventually got their equalizer after a rather ill-advised tackle from
Tim Ream Walker Zimmerman on Gareth Bale in the penalty area. Bale smashed home the penalty, leaving the Stars and Stripes with little time to respond even with nine (9) minutes added on, continuing this World Cup’s early trend of extremely lengthy stoppage times.
The draw isn’t the worst result for either of course, but does make their matchups with England the potential deciders for who will advance from the group (assuming they both will easily beat Iran, who looked rather bad in their 6-2 defeat to the Three Lions).