Senegal 1-1 (4-5 pens) Ivory Coast: Hosts bounce back to form to knock out defending champions

Coming into the Round of 16 at the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations with an unblemished three-match group-stage record, defending champions Senegal surprisingly made three changes with Lamine Camara, Moussa Niakhaté and Abdou Diallo all recalled.

Meanwhile, away from the off-field footballing politics that saw Jean-Louis Gasset sacked last week, and a loan request for former manager Hervé Renard rejected, interim Elephants’ manager Emerse Faé made wholesale alterations, with most notably captain Serge Aurier returning.

SEN: Mendy; Koulibaly, Diallo, Niakhaté; Jakobs, Camara, Diatta, P Sarr; Mané, I Sarr; Diallo

IVO: Fofana; Aurier, Kossounou, Ndicka, Konan; Seri, Sangaré, Fofana; Diakité, Krasso, Gradel

Unbeaten in competitive action since suffering a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Uganda in mid-January 2023, an in-form Senegal needed only four minutes to open the scoring in Yamoussoukro as Sadio Mané’s pin-point cross from the byline was thunderously slammed home by Habib Diallo on the half-volley.

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Not long after the game’s opening goal, Mané was exceptionally lucky to have remained on the pitch. A late challenge on Ibrahim Sangaré left the talismanic forward with only a compassionate yellow card from Pierre Atcho- but the Ivorian midfielder with a trip off the pitch on a stretcher in some distress.

A period of inactivity in and around goal for both sides would submerge the remainder of the first half, as the only remaining half-chance for attacking midfielder Seko Fofana in the 41st minute was instinctively extinguished by Senegal goalkeeper Édouard Mendy.

On course to reach a hat-trick of final appearances in the Africa Cup of Nations finals, Senegal nearly began the second half as they began the game as a goal-hungry Diallo witnessed his first-time strike directed away to the safety of a corner-kick by Yahia Fofana.

Surely on the tongue of many to successfully defend their AFCON trophy, the Lions of Teranga eventually responded with their own goalscoring threat as Ismail Jakobs, Lamine Camara and Mané all fired wide of the mark.

Controversy would surround referee Atcho with the game now in the final ten minutes, as he booked Nicolas Pépé for simulation despite it appearing that the forward had been brought down in the penalty area by Mendy.

However, in the midst of heated protest from the Ivory Coast that saw a number of yellow cards handed out on and off the pitch, VAR crucially intervened to advise the man in the middle to reverse his initial decision, and award a spot-kick to the tournament’s hosts.

Without any hesitation, fellow second-half substitute Franck Kessié stepped up to confidently better Mendy with an expertly-struck strike to set-up an intriguing final four minutes plus stoppage-time. Nonetheless, no-one could find a match-winner in the remaining time available as extra-time took centre-stage.

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Despite another thirty minutes of play in Yamoussoukro, both nations could only manufacture the solitary shot on target between them as Mané brought a brilliant save out of Fofana.

After four successfully converted penalties, Senegal defender Moussa Niakhaté missed the all-important spot-kick, leaving Kessié with the opportunity to send the Ivory Coast through to a quarter-final tie against Mali or Burkina Faso on Saturday. Having only converted from 12 yards out in the concluding stages of the second half, the Al-Ahli man again found the back of the net to send the defending champions packing.