Mali 4-1 Mauritania
New Suez Stadium, Suez
SUEZ – Mali produced by far the most convincing display at the on-going Africa Cup of Nations, defeating Mauritania 4-1 in one of the Group E games played on Monday night.
In their first AFCON game in history, the Lions of Chinguetti were outplayed, outclassed and handed a lesson at the Suez Stadium.
After standing firm for the first 36 minutes, Corentin Martins’s side finally succumbed to the pressure with Abdoulay Diaby drilling home a 25-yard strike to hand Mali a more than deserved lead.
At the stroke of half time, one became two as Moussa Marega converted from the spot after goalkeeper Brahim Souleymane committed a foul as he attempted to smother a shot he had spilled.
By the long break, it was just a matter of how many the Eagles would score as they were clearly in cruise control.
Ten minutes after the recess, Monaco’s Adama Traore smacked in a third with a well-taken low drive, increasing Mali’s lead to three.
However, the Eagles would be denied a clean sheet as Mauritania pulled one back on 72 minutes. After Ismael Diakite was impeded by Mamadou Fofana in the area, Real Valladolid’s Hacen El Ide stepped up and converted the resultant kick, bringing the scores to 3-1.
Mauritania had no time to celebrate their maiden AFCON goal as Mali restored their three-goal caution a minute later as substitute Adama Traore who had earlier replaced his namesake, curled in from the edge of the box.
From there onwards, both sides looked to be contented with the score-line, Mali running out 4-1 victors in the end.
Mauritania’s keeper was fortunate to finish the game after the referee took a lenient view on his cynical takedown of Marega, Souleymane escaping with a yellow card after a rash charge out of his area.
The result sees Mali take the initiative in Group E with three points, two ahead of both Tunisia and Angola who shared spoils in a 1-1 affair earlier in the day.
The performance by Mali will send bitter signals to Tunisia who are favourites to cruise through Group E.
For Mauritania, it was a baptism of fire as they try to explore unfamiliar ground but will take a lot of positives from the game.
In their next games, Mali takes on Tunisia on Friday, before Mauritania return to action against Angola, the following day.
The other games played on Monday
-Ivory Coast 1-0 South Africa
-Tunisia 1-1 Angola
-Cameroon vs Guinea-Bissau @8pm
-Ghana vs Benin @11pm