Oumar Diakite scored in the added minutes to help 10-man Ivory Coast book their place in the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after defeating Mali 2-1 on Saturday.
The Elephants kicked off the game on a high note and it was Nicolas Pepe, who should have put them ahead with only five minutes played, but his left-footed effort did not trouble the Eagles goalkeeper Diarra.
After dominating the early stages, the advantage swung into Mali’s favour as they were awarded a penalty in the 13th minute after Odilon Kossounou brought down Sinayoko and was yellow-carded for the foul. However, Adama Noss Traore stepped up to the spot kick but it was saved by Fofana to the delight of Ivory Coast fans at Stade de la Paix.
Ivory Coast continued to attack Mali and they finished the half strongly as they started to build up a head of steam but chances remained few and far between. Kessie continued to do his best in the midfield but nothing going forward was sticking.
In the 44th minute, Ivory Coast suffered a blow after they were reduced to 10 men. Kossounou hauled down Sinayoko after the Mali forward had raced through in goal and he was booked for his second yellow card to be sent off to early showers. The Eagles then took advantage of the numerical advantage to take the lead in the 71st minute against the run of play.
Nene Dorgeles pulled off a strike for the ages to put Mali ahead. After receiving the ball on the left side of the box, he weaved in towards the open space in the middle and got to about just outside of the box where he decided to aim for the top-right corner of the goal, and duly found the target.
In the 89th minute, Mali made a double change, Sinayoko and Coulibaly trudged off the field, with Mamadou Fofana and Boubacar Traore coming on in their place while Ivory Coast brought in Simon Adringa to replace Gradel. And in the stoppages, Ivory Coast came out of nowhere to equalise courtesy of Adringa with the home fans going berserk and taking the game to extra time.
Just like the equaliser before, Ivory Coast managed to score a goal on the very last kick of extra time to extend their AFCON campaign. The goal came off a late free-kick which was won on the right side and it fell to Diakite, whose shot got into crucial deflection to wrong-foot Diarra as the ball rolled into the net.
Mali XI: Diarra; Traore, Haidara, Kouyate, Niakate, Samasseskou, Couliabaly, Sacko, Traore, Sinayoko, Doumbia.
Ivory Coast XI: Fofana; Aurier, Ndicka, Seri, Konan; Fofana, Kessie, Gradel; Kossounou, Kouame, Pepe.