For 83 minutes the story of Senegal's World Cup opener with the Netherlands was a tale of two absent strikers.
Then the smarts of Senegalese goalkeeper Eduoard Mendy also went missing and the three-times finalists took full advantage.
Mendy missed a cross from Frenkie de Jong allowing Cody Gakpo to head in, then spilled a weak shot from Memphis Depay giving Davy Klaassen a 99th-minute tap in.
Senegal were without their talisman, Bayern Munich's Sadio Mane, forced out of the tournament through injury days before it began.
The Dutch were without Barcelona's Depay, sidelined for two months due to a hamstring injury.
Depay did at least get on the pitch for the last half-hour, but with his lack of match sharpness made him largely invisible, notwithstanding his late involvement in Klassen's goal.
"I think Memphis played an important role and after all, as they say in English, a 2-0 win against the African Nations Cup champions, I can be very, very pleased," Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal said.
"Gakpo was decisive, I left him inside because he knows how to score goals and is very agile."
In an lively but scrappy first half the best chances fell to the Dutch.
But De Jong took too many touches wasting a chance set up by Steven Bergwijn and Virgil van Dijk headed wide after rising highest at a corner.
Senegal did not threaten until the hour mark, which allowed Dutch goalkeeper Andries Noppert, thrust into the World Cup on his international debut, a chance to settle.
Such is the speed of his career turnaround this was only the 52nd game of the 203cm Heerenveen keeper's professional career.
Noppert had little to do before the 64th minute when he dived low to his left to turn aside a shot from Salernitana's Boulaye Dia, who had been asked to fill the metaphorically huge shirt left empty by Mane.
Noppert subsequently made sharp, important saves from Idrissa Gueye and Pape Gueye.
"I think we gave everything and I think we deserved at least a point from this game," Senegal coach Aliou Cisse said.
"We are disappointed to have not scored ... we needed to be more effective in front of goal.
"But, of course, Sadio being missing is a problem for us."
While Noppert shone Mendy, a Champions League winner with Chelsea, faltered to leave Senegal facing a probable must-win against hosts Qatar next.
The Netherlands can secure a place in the round of 16 if they beat Ecuador also on Friday (Saturday 3am AEDT).
With Reuters and AP.