Two goals from Moussa Konate gave Senegal a 2-0 win over Uruguay in the Group A game at Wembley despite having Abdoulaye Ba sent off on the half-hour. It was an open, entertaining game at England’s national stadium, with the home crowd cheering the Africans on to an unlikely victory to see them temporarily top the group with four points.
The game’s first action came in the third minute, when Uruguay won a free-kick 30 yards from goal. Gaston Ramirez, who scored with a set piece at Old Trafford in the 2-1 win over UAE, took it but his shot fizzed over the crossbar.
Seven minutes later, Senegal were in front. Pape Souare’s corner from the right was met with a powerful diving header from Cheikhou Kouyate. Martin Campana made an outstanding one-handed save, diving low to push out the effort, but merely pushed the ball straight into the path of Moussa Konate, who converted the easiest of chances from close range.
The Wembley crowd were enjoying watching the Lions of Teranga, particularly when Sadio Mane received the ball. The tricky right-sided midfielder from Metz was giving Uruguay right back Ramon Arias a torrid time and almost created Senegal's second when he found goalscorer Konate on the edge of the box. Konate’s accurate right footed shot seemed destined for the top corner, but Campana showed great agility to tip the ball over.
Senegal began to give away free kicks which Uruguay looked to capitalise on. Once again, they conceded one 30 yards from goal, Ramirez elected to take it and this time he went even closer than in the third minute. His sweet left footed shot clipped the Senegal wall and hit the bar.
The Africans’ task of maintaining their lead was made all the more difficult on the half hour mark when Abdoulaye Ba was shown a straight red card by Felix Brych for a cynical trip on Luis Suarez. The same player had been booked four minutes earlier for a foul on the same player.
Uruguay were dreadfully unlucky not to equalise in the 33rd minute. Edinson Cavani’s looping shot from the right seemed destined for the net but Ousmane Mane made a brilliant save to tip the ball away. However, Ramirez was lurking at the back post and looked certain to score, but Saliou Cisse managed to clear it off the line.
How Uruguay were made to regret that miss as four minutes later, Senegal doubled their advantage. A corner, this time from the left, was swung into the danger zone by Soaure and Konate created enough space fohimself to head home.
There was an entertaining end to the first half. A free kick for Uruguay on the dead ball line was played intelligently by Suarez into the path of Ramirez, who forced a fine save from Ousmane Mane. The keeper then hit a long ball to the other end, which found his namesake Sadio. He controlled it brilliantly, beat two defenders, but shot wide with just the keeper to beat.
More drama came in first-half stoppage time. Cavani was onside much to the surprise of the Senegal defenders, rounded the keeper and seemed certain to score until Kouyate ran back to clear off the line.
Oscar Tabarez brought forward Abel Hernandez off the bench for midfielder Maximiliano Calzada at half-time and the change almost made an instant impact. The Palermo forward was bearing down on goal, but Kouyate was able to do just enough to distract and the chance went begging.
It was obvious what Senegal coach Abdoukarime Diouf said to his ten men at half-time: be disciplined and do your best to go forward on the counter-attack. They were helped enormously in the 62nd minute when Liverpool forward Luis Suarez somehow headed wide under no pressure from a Lodeiro free-kick.
Substitutions midway through the second half interrupted the flow of the game as the sun came out at Wembley for the first time in the afternoon. The game needed a goal, but time was ticking away for the South Americans. Indeed, with four minutes to go it was Senegal who had a great chance to go 3-0 up four minutes from time when Kara Mbodji’s free-kick from distance was well claimed by Campana.
In injury time, Suarez has the chance to score a consolation for Uruguay, but Mane save well low down as the Africans held on for the three points. In the group’s next games on Wednesday, Senegal play UAE in Coventry, while Uruguay meet Great Britain in Cardiff.