Teranga Lions prey on the Squirrels to qualify for AFCON semis

BY: Daily Graphic
Senegal’s lone goal hero, Iddrisa Gueye (right) and his teammates celebrating his goal.
Senegal’s lone goal hero, Iddrisa Gueye (right) and his teammates celebrating his goal.

Senegal secured a ticket to the semifinals of the Africa Cup of Nations after beating Benin 1-0 at the 30th June Stadium in Cairo yesterday.

Sadio Mane set up Idrissa Gueye whose 69th minute strike provided the match winner which sent the Terenga Lions to the penultimate round for the first time since 2006.

But the Liverpool forward, Mane, who was searching for his fourth goal in the tournament, would later be denied that opportunity after his goal was disallowed three minutes later when the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) spotted him in an offside position.

Eight minutes before regulation time ended, Benin who had fought in search of the equaliser, were dealt a big blow as Olivier Verdon was sent off for a strong tackle on Everton star, Gueye.

A combination between the two English Premier League players had broken the deadlock when Mane spotted unmarked Gueye in the penalty box to fire past helpless goalkeeper Owolabi Alagbe.

The Squirrels had controlled the game from the start and looked like the side to break the deadlock but poor finishing denied them that opportunity, with Mickael Pote and Stephane Sessegnon wasting scoring opportunities.

However, it was Coach Aliou Cissé side who took advantage of their rich experience to force an early corner kick but the Terenga Lions failed to utilise the opportunity.

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Senegal took control of the game and could have shot into the lead before recess through Mane’s brilliant chance in the 19th minute, when the forward controlled the ball with his chest but could not pull the trigger.

Cebio Soukou also had two fine opportunities in the 23rd and the 25th minute but shot wide in the first instance and missed the upright narrowly from his curled freekick in the second effort.

Coach Cisse introduced some fresh players in the second half to strengthen his attack by bringing on Mbaye Niang for Mbaye Diagne, Keita Balde for Krepin Diatta and Idrissa Gueye for Salif Sane and the substitutions paid off as they sustained the attack and forced the Squirrels to play most part of the game in their own half until the 69th minute when the Senegalese found the winning goal.

With a goal and a man down, Benin could not contain the onslaught of the Senegalese as they sat back to soak pressure until the final whistle.