Defending champions Senegal kicked off their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on a positive note after beating 10-man Gambia 3-0 in their Group C opener at Stade Charles Konan Banny de in Yamoussoukro on Monday.
It was the Lions of Teranga, who started the game on the front foot throwing everything at Gambia for an earlier opener and it took them only four minutes of play to take a deserved lead.
A poor defensive header dropped to the unmarked Sadio Mane, who turned and rolled the ball to Pape Gueye 12 yards out, and the Marseille midfielder swept home a controlled first-time finish with his left foot.
In the 52nd minute, Senegal doubled their lead moments after goalkeeper Edouard Mendy had made a one-handed save to deny Ali Sowe and keep them in the game.
It was a simple move and a lovely finish: Kalidou Koulibaly laid a pass to Ismaila Sarr, who in turn fed it through to Lamine Camara, and the 20-year-old midfielder drove a low finish into the bottom-left corner from just inside the area.
Camara then grabbed the third, his second of the day, in the 86th minute to kill off any slim hopes of Gambia staging a comeback.
After Gueye’s opener, Senegal had a great chance to make it 2-0 when Camara made inroads on the right of the penalty area, his cutback found Habib Diallo, but the striker’s attempted backheel finish bounced wide.
In the 25th minute, Gambia created their best chance of the game, Minteh’s positive run from the left side resulting into a corner, and Sowe jumped the highest to meet the delivery, but he could not turn his header on target.
At the stroke of half-time, Gambia’s Ebou Adams became the first player to be red carded in the tournament after he was given his marching orders for a studs-up challenge following a VAR review.
The outcome of the game marked a positive start for the Lions of Teranga, who clinched their first AFCON title in 2021 as Mane’s spot-kick secured a dramatic penalty-shootout win over rivals Egypt in Cameroon.