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Sadio Mane secures last gasp win for Senegal over Zimbabwe at Africa Cup of Nations


AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS – SENEGAL 1-0 ZIMBABWE: Mane scored a last-gasp penalty as Senegal eventually overcame a determined Zimbabwe side to win their opening match

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Sadio Mane scored a last gasp penalty to give Senegal a 1-0 win over Zimbabwe in their opening match at the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Liverpool star blasted home from the spot after a handball from Kelvin Madzongwe deep into stoppage-time.

Liverpool star Mane missed a golden opportunity in the first half, but he was largely kept at arm’s length by a determined Warriors side, who looked to have earned an unexpected point.

Mane cut a frustrated figure for much of the first half as a disjointed Senegal side struggled to break down Zimbabwe despite their status as overwhelming favourites.

With the Liverpool forward taking the captain’s armband in the absence of Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly – who joined Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy on the sidelines after both tested positive for Covid-19 – there was an increased pressure on his shoulders to sparkle in his side’s attack.







Mane missed a big chance for his side in the first half
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AFP via Getty Images)

Mane came close to opening the scoring with a trademark bust into the box from the left, but his low, somewhat scuffed shot was well saved by Warriors goalkeeper Petros Mhari.

The forward then looked to have teed up a golden opportunity for Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Idrissa Gueye, but the former Aston Villa and Everton man took a heavy touch after being found by his skipper in front of goal.

Although somewhat fortunate to escape on that occasion, Zimbabwe were holding out well even though there were restricted to long-range efforts which failed to trouble stand-in Senegal keeper Seny Dieng, of QPR.

In the second period Mane was often seen dropping into central and deeper areas in between his fellow attackers Boulaye Dia and Keita Balde, but despite his best efforts he was unable to inspire any form of sustained attacking cohesion. One clever ball found Balde, but the Cagliari man was unable to find Villarreal’s Dia in the middle.

Senegal were only able to name six substitutes due to ongoing Covid cases within the squad, and they looked to be beginning to run out of ideas as a Mane free-kick was headed over the bar by centre-back Abdou Diallo.







Mane was squeezed out by the Zimbabwe defenders for much of the match
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Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

Substitute Habib Diallo then missed a golden opportunity to tee up Mane when his low cross following a fast break was well gathered by the impressive Mhari, with Mane lurking.

He would then step up in the last seconds of the match after Madzongwe’s handball, earning three points for his side.

Zimbabwe’s spirited display was made all the more impressive by the fact that they weren’t sure if they would even be competing in the tournament less than a week ago.

FIFA stated that they were ready to impose a ban on the Warriors unless their FA regained control of football in the country, with a government-appointed group having taken the reins.

Zambia had said that they were on standby to replace Zimbabwe if needed, but despite initially missed a January 3 deadline to provide assurances the Warriors were eventually allowed into the tournament.

Group B’s other two countries Guinea – featuring Mane’s Liverpool teammate Naby Keita – and Malawi also meet on Monday.

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