Betrand Traore came off the bench to grab a late winner from the penalty spot as Burkina Faso edged out Mauritania 1-0 in their Africa Cup of Nations opener at the Stadium of Peace Bouake in Ivory Coast on Tuesday.
After a drab 0-0 result in the first half, Traore, who came on in the 73rd minute, stepped up to convert from the spot and send Mauritania goalkeeper Babacar Niasse the wrong way in the 95th minute of the game.
Both sides started the game at a slow pace, studying each other and it was Mauritania, who created the first chance of the game in the seventh minute when Aboubakary Koita found space inside the danger zone and after controlling the ball, he tried a shot which was saved by goalkeeper Herve Koffi.
Six minutes later, Mauritania missed another chance, this time Idrissa Thiam’s powerful shot being saved by Koffi. The Stallions then started growing into the game and in the 18th minute attacker Mohamed Konate took a free kick from outside the 18-yard area, but Cedrik Badolo’s header could not trouble custodian Babacar Niasse.
In the 25th minute, Mauritania were forced into an early change when Aboubakar Kamara went off injured and was replaced by Souleymane Anne. Burkina Faso’s Konate was the first player to be booked by Moroccan referee Jalal Jayed after a clumsy challenge on Idrissa Thiam. From the resultant free-kick, Thiam slotted in a good ball but Lamine Ba was adjudged to be in an offside position.
At the stroke of half-time, Burkina Faso thought they had won a penalty but after a long VAR review; it was not given to the delight of Mauritania players and it was the last action as the two teams walked down the tunnel for the half-time break.
In the 52nd minute, Stephane Aziz Ki, who plays for Young Africans (Yanga SC) of Tanzania, missed an open sitter for Burkina Faso after being set up by Mamady Bangre. Despite having acres of space to plan and execute his effort, Aziz Ki took time and the ball was cleared out for a thrown-in.
Burkina Faso starting XI: Herve Koffi, Steeve Yago, Edmond Tapsoba, Issoufou Dayo, Issa Kabore, Blati Toure, Adama Guira, Stephane Aziz Ki, Mamady Bangre, Cedrik Badolo, Mohamed Konate.
Subs: Hillel Konate, Bertrand Traore, Abdoul Tapsoba, Ismahila Ouedraogo, Hassane Bande, Djibril Ouattara, Gustavo Sangare, Kilian Nikiema, Dramane Salou, Abdoul Guiebre, Adamo Nagalo, Nasser Djiga.
Mauritania starting XI: Babacar Niasse, Omare Gassama, Aly Abeid, Ibrahima Keita, Guessouma Fofana, Nouh Mohamed El Abd, Lamine Ba, Hemeya Tanjy, Aboubakary Koita, Idrissa Thiam, Aboubakar Kamara.
Subs: Namori Diaw, Souleymane Anne, Bakari Camara, Mohamed Dellahi Yali, Souleymane Doukara, Mohamed El Abd Sidi Ahmed, Khadim Diaw, M’Backe N’Diaye, Sidi Bouna Amar, Bakary N’Diaye, Oumar Ngom, El-Hadji Ba.