Senegal advanced to the World Cup knockout stages for the second time in their history thanks to a nerveless volley from Kalidou Koulibaly at a rowdy Khalifa International Stadium.
All three goals were scored by English players, with Ecuador’s Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo canceling out Watford’s Ismaila Sarr’s penalty before Chelsea defender Koulibaly’s side-footer won it for Senegal.
Ecuador only needed a point to advance, but paid the price for a passive performance as Senegal were propelled forward by an almost non-stop cacophony of drumming from their supporters in Al Rayyan.
After being clumsily upended by Ecuador defender Piero Hincapie, Watford winger Sarr calmly stroked home from the penalty spot to put the African champions deservedly ahead.
Ecuador equalized with their first real chance when Caicedo swept home Felix Torres’ flick-on, but Koulibaly’s composed finish immediately regained the lead for Senegal, who knew only victory would be enough to advance barring an unlikely Qatar victory over the Netherlands.
They held on in a tense six minutes of stoppage time to finish second in Group A behind the Dutch, who clinched first place by handing the tournament hosts their third defeat in three games with a 2-0 win in Al Khor.
Because the Lions of Teranga will face the winners of Group B – a berth Gareth Southgate’s team could secure later on Tuesday – Aliou Cisse’s side are potential last-16 opponents for England.