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2019 Africa Cup of Nations, Round of 16
  • Wilfried Zaha (76')

Mali fluff lines as Zaha hits Ivory Coast winner

Getty

Ivory Coast forward Wilfried Zaha gave his side a 1-0 win over Mali in their Africa Cup of Nations round of 16 match on Monday after their opponents had dominated most of the game and missed a flurry of chances.

Zaha, who had barely featured in the match until that point, took advantage as the Mali got into a terrible mess from an Ivory Coast goal kick in the 76th minute to earn his side a barely deserved win and quarter-final tie against Algeria.

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Mali, unbeaten in the group stage, had played with verve and skill as they took their southern neighbours apart in the first half with Moussa Djenepo and Abdoulaye Diaby causing all sorts of trouble down the flanks and Moussa Marega a constant threat in attack, while Ivory Coast keeper Sylvain Gbohouo lived a charmed life.

He allowed a corner to slip through his fingers but Diaby could not react quickly enough at the far post and turned the ball wide. Moments later, Gbohouo was nearly caught out by a long-range Diaby free kick but managed to turn the ball over.

Hamari Traore surged into the Ivorian penalty area only to blast his shot towards the Suez Canal before Djenepo created Mali's best first half chance with another run down the left but Marega missed from six metres.

Another opportunity went begging at the start of the second half as Marega slipped the ball to Djenepo who had a free run on goal but completely lost his footing when he seemed poised to score.

Mali began to run out of gas as the Ivory Coast, whose current side is a shadow of the so-called golden generation which won the tournament in 2015, came back into the game.

Jonathan Kodjia should have put the Ivorians ahead when he was sent clear but sent his shot straight at goalkeeper Djigui Diarra who was already on the ground fearing the worst.

But there was no let off shortly afterwards. Gbohouo took a free kick deep inside the Ivorian half, the Malian defence missed the ball and it bounced into the path of Zaha who scored his second goal at the finals.

Adama Traore had a shot blocked by Gbohouo in stoppage time but by then Mali's confidence had been replaced by desperation.