Equatorial Guinea edge Mali on penalties to advance at Africa Cup of Nations

Equatorial Guinea players celebrate after beating Mali in a penalty shootout at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Equatorial Guinea players celebrate after beating Mali in a penalty shootout at the Africa Cup of Nations.
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Equatorial Guinea continued their giant-killing run with a 6-5 penalty shootout victory over Mali after a goalless draw in their Africa Cup of Nations last-16 clash in Limbe on Wednesday.

Equatorial Guinea are the final side to advance to the last eight where they will meet Senegal on Sunday.

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Mali had been the overwhelming favourites but turned in an underwhelming performance, despite dominating possession and creating most of the chances.

Owono saved the final kick from Mali defender Falaye Sacko, although it was checked first by VAR to see whether he had advanced off his line before the kick was taken.

He had indeed moved forward but his back foot was still trailing on the line as Sacko took his penalty and the kick was allowed to stand by the referee, setting off tear-filled celebrations.

Equatorial Guinea had beaten defending champions Algeria and Sierra Leone in the group stage and have now added another major victory.

They had no real chances in the game, but never allowed Mali to get into any rhythm and proved difficult to break down.

Mali were awarded a penalty in the 40th minute when Josete Miranda knocked over Moussa Doumbia.

Yet referee Bakary Gassama was encouraged to look again at his decision and, after consulting the pitchside VAR screen, changed his mind and overturned what had looked a soft penalty award.

Mali striker Ibrahima Kone shot wide on the turn early on and near the end of the first half Amadou Haidara had a good chance to open the scoring but did not connect properly with his effort.

As the game wore on, the clear-cut chances dwindled, with Mali making no progress into the Equatorial Guinea penalty area while the underdogs waited for rare opportunities on the counter attack.

Equatorial Guinea's shootout win followed similar success for Egypt earlier in the day in Douala after they played out a goalless draw with Ivory Coast.

"It's historic for us to get this far and it comes after excellent work by my players," said coach Juan Micha.

His Mali counterpart Mohamed Magassouba, whose country play in World Cup playoffs in March, said: "It's an incredible disappointment because it should not have even gone to penalties. We deserved more today."