August 11, 2022

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Afcon 2021: Super subs Cheikhou Kouyate and Ismaila Sarr seal AFCON semi-final spot for Senegal

2 min read

Senegal battled past Equatorial Guinea to earn a 3-1 victory and a place in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals.

Famara Diedhiou put the favourites in front after good work from Sadio Mane, as they went into the break ahead and relatively comfortable with the state of the match.

But Jannick Buyla put Equatorial Guinea back on terms after the break – the first goal Senegal had conceded all tournament. It looked like being a nervy conclusion, but substitutes Cheikhou Kouyate and Ismaila Sarr restored the lead and put the result beyond doubt.

It’s a semi-final clash against Burkina Faso up next for Senegal, who are looking for their first ever AFCON title.

Mane started the quarter-final match, despite Liverpool contacting the player asking him to sit out after he was forced off in Senegal’s last game with apparent concussion.

Boulaye Dia had a shot blocked and Idrissa Gueye whipped a free-kick just wide, but the goal eventually did come for Senegal and it was no surprise who was involved.

Mane picked the ball up and slid a lovely ball through to Diedhiou, who finished past the goalkeeper at the near post to put his side in front. The lead looked like it might be extended before the break as Equatorial Guinea regularly exposed down the flanks, but they remained just the one goal behind at half-time.

The second-half almost got off to the perfect start for Equatorial Guinea, after the referee pointed to the spot as the ball hit Kalidou Koulibaly on the arm. However, after a VAR review, the referee overturned the penalty decision.

But the equaliser came, shortly before the hour mark. Pablo Garnet played a lovely reverse pass into the path of Buyla, who controlled and then poked an effort past Edouard Mendy and into the far corner.

Senegal brought on Kouyate, and less than three minutes he was on the scoresheet. Emilio Nsue twice failed to clear a corner, before two Equatorial Guinea defenders went up for the same ball. It fell invitingly behind them for Kouyate, who lifted it over the onrushing Jesus Owono to put his side back in front.

And the win was sealed when fellow substitute Sarr, making his first appearance since Watford’s win over Manchester United in November, tucked home. It came after great work on the left wing from Saliou Ciss, and Sarr made no mistake from the cut-back.

It was Senegal’s third of the game, matching their tally across their first four matches, and they look to be finding top form at just the right time as they look forward to a last-four appearance.

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