Ivory Coast in last 8 of African Nations Cup, thanks to Wilfried Zaha
Ivorians, Algeria to meet in q-finals, Tunisia to face Madagascar after pipping Ghana
Ivory Coast attacker Wilfried Zaha secured a 1-0 win over Mali with a late goal in their African Nations Cup last-16 clash yesterday morning (Singapore time), after their opponents had dominated most of the game and missed a flurry of chances.
The Crystal Palace star, who has been linked with Arsenal, had barely featured until then.
But he took advantage as the Mali defence got into a terrible mess from a free-kick deep in the Ivorian half in the 76th minute to earn his side a barely deserved win and a quarter-final tie against Algeria.
Mali, unbeaten in the group stage, had not defeated their southern neighbours in a competitive match since 1977 but, for most of the contest in Suez, Egypt, seemed to believe they could end that run.
They played with verve and skill, and bossed the first hour with Moussa Djenepo and Abdoulay Diaby causing endless trouble down the flanks and Moussa Marega a constant threat in attack, while Ivory Coast goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo lived a charmed life.
He allowed a corner-kick to slip through his fingers, but Diaby could not react quickly enough at the far post and turned the ball wide.
Another opportunity went begging at the start of the second period as Marega slipped the ball to Djenepo, who had a free run on goal but lost his footing when he seemed poised to score.
Mali began to run out of gas as the Ivory Coast, whose current side are a shadow of the so-called golden generation which won the tournament in 2015, came back into the game.
On 76 minutes, Gbohouo took a free-kick deep inside the Ivorian half, the Malian defence missed the ball and it bounced into the path of Zaha, who scored his second goal of the tournament.
In yesterday's other round-of-16 match, Ghana's recent run of misfortune at the tournament continued when they lost 5-4 on penalties to Tunisia.
This is the earliest exit for Ghana since 2006. They had made it to the semi-finals at the six previous tournaments.
The writing was on the wall once again in Ismailia, after they had an effort ruled out by the referee and twice hit the woodwork.
Tunisia took the lead from Taha Khenissi's goal in the 73rd minute, but Ghana took the game into extra-time, following an own-goal in stoppage time by Rami Bedoui.
Ghana's Caleb Ekuban then saw his kick saved in the penalty shoot-out to hand Tunisia a place in the quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah insisted that their disallowed goal by Andre Ayew was unfairly chalked off, as Thomas Partey was wrongly adjudged to have handled the ball in the build-up.
He said: "If there was VAR, the result could have changed. The goal scored would have been allowed.
"The referee should go and watch the video again and judge it for himself. It was really bad."
The VAR will be used only from the quarter-finals onwards. - REUTERS
- Senegal v Benin
- Nigeria v South Africa
- Ivory Coast v Algeria
- Madagascar v Tunisia