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Champions Senegal knocked out of AFCON

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Ivory Coast march on. PHOTO @cafonline

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IVORY COAST | CAFONLINE |  Hosts Cote d’Ivoire pulled off a monumental upset by defeating defending champions Senegal 5-4 on penalties after extra time to advance to the TotalEneriges CAF Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals.

In front of a raucous home crowd at the Stade Charles Konan Banny in Yamoussoukro, Senegal made a blistering start and took the lead just 4 minutes in.

A superb cross from Sadio Mane found Habib Diallo, who calmly chested the ball down before firing a rocket into the top corner.

Stunned by conceding so early, the hosts gradually grew into the game with neat interplay in midfield between Franck Kessie and Jean Michael Seri.

Ibrahim Sangare posed a constant threat on the wing while strikers Sebastien Haller and Nicolas Pepe stretched Senegal’s defence.

The Elephants had the better of the first half but despite several near misses, a Senegalese wall of Kalidou Koulibaly and Abdou Diallo repelled everything thrown at them. 0-1 at halftime.

Senegal almost doubled their lead early in the second half when a speculative Ismaila Sarr effort forced a fingertip save. But Cote d’Ivoire were unfazed and continued pressing.

The game turned on a pivotal 86th minute moment. Pepe burst into the box and was clumsily brought down by Edouard Mendy.

After VAR reviewed the incident, Franck Kessie coolly sent Mendy the wrong way from the spot to equalize and send the home crowd into ecstasy.

In extra time, chances came and went for both sides but the scores remained level. In the shootout, each side netted their first 4 penalties. But when Kalifa Coulibaly’s effort came off the upright, Kessie stepped up to smash home the winning kick, capping a remarkable turnaround for the hosts.

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After a disastrous group stage, Cote d’Ivoire showed tremendous resilience and spirit to dethrone Senegal, who will have to relinquish their title. The Elephants march on, redemption complete.

Few gave the Elephants hope coming into this last 16 clash against star-studded Senegal.

But led by captain Serge Aurier, the spirited hosts fought until the end and rode their luck at times against profligate opponents.

This result blows the tournament wide open. The defending champions are out, and the unfancied hosts march on in dramatic style.

MATCH FACTS:

●       Côte d’Ivoire have played their 11th penalty shoot-out in the Africa Cup of Nations, more than any other team in the competition. They have won five of these 11 shoot-outs, with only Egypt having a higher tally (6).

●       Côte d’Ivoire have reached the quarter-finals of an Africa Cup of Nations edition for the 11th time in their history, with no team having played more quarter-finals in the competition (Ghana, Tunisia and Nigeria also at 11 each).

●       Senegal will not be playing in the quarter-finals of an Africa Cup of Nations edition for the first time since 2015 (eliminated in the group stage). This is the seventh consecutive edition in which the title holder have failed to reach the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations, the last team to reach this stage of the competition being Egypt in 2010.

●       Habib Diallo’s goal after 4 minutes was the earliest Côte d’Ivoire had conceded in an Africa Cup of Nations game since Rashidi Yekini’s goal against Nigeria in 1990 (third minute). It was also the earliest goal conceded by a host nation in an AFCON match since the one conceded by Ethiopia against DR Congo in the 1968 semi-final (third minute).

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●       Scoring after 3 minutes and 15 seconds, Habib Diallo has scored Senegal’s earliest goal in a knockout game at the Africa Cup of Nations.

●       Franck Kessié is the first Côte d’Ivoire player to score a penalty goal in the Africa Cup of Nations since Didier Drogba in 2006 against Morocco, and the first to do so in a knockout game since Lucien Kassi-Kouadio, also against Morocco in the match for the third place in the 1986 edition.

●       Sadio Mané has delivered his third assist in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, the highest tally for a player from Senegal at a single edition since Opta collects this data (2010). Since his debut in the competition in 2015, he has been involved in seven goals in the knockout phase (3 goals, 4 assists), more than any other player over that period.

●       Côte d’Ivoire midfielder Jean Michaël Seri has completed 95.5% of his passes against Senegal (63/66). Of the players who have attempted at least 60 passes in a game since 2010, only Anicet Abel, with Madagascar against Tunisia in the quarter-finals of the 2019 edition, has had a higher percentage in an Africa Cup of Nations knockout game (96.9%).

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