Football

Sadio Mane saves Senegal from a disappointing start to AFCON with a last-minute penalty

Senegal were on the verge of suffering an upset in their opening AFCON match against Zimbabwe, but a late penalty kick from Sadio Mane gave them the much-needed win.

The Lions of Terranga were slightly shorthanded for the match against the Warriors. Senegal couldn’t use Kalidou Koulibaly, Edouard Mendy, and Famara Diedhiou due to COVID-19.

They, however, took charge early in the game as they missed three goalscoring opportunities in the first 25 minutes. The team led by Aliou Cisse were on the verge of receiving a surprising goal in their net, but Zimbabwe’s efforts came up short. Although there have been a lot of chances to open the score, the first half ended 0-0.

Senegal remained the better team on the pitch in the second half as well. They started off strong as Pape Abou Cisse missed a decent chance in 48th minute. Abdou Diallo had another good opportunity to put Senegal in the lead, but his header flew past the right post.

In the 77th minute, Boulaye Dia took up a promising counter attack for the Lions of Terranga. Sadio Mane signaled for a pass as he had a lot of free space in the penalty box. Dia’s attempt was, however, intercepted by Petros Mhari who kept Zimbabwe’s chances alive.

In the dying moments of the game, the Warriors came close to the upset, but their efforts were denied by Seny Dieng. When it seemed that the match would end in a draw, Kelvin Madzongwe stopped the ball with his hands in Zimbabwe’s penalty box.

The referee was confident with his decision giving a penalty kick for Senegal. Sadio Mane was clinical from the spot, sending a powerful shot down the middle of the goal. This was more than enough for Senegal who clinched onto a 1-0 victory in the end.

Sadio Mane was named Man of the Match, following his crucial performance. This sent the Lions of Terranga into the top spot of Group B with 3 points. Zimbabwe remained pointless, despite having all the chances to squeeze something from the game.

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