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Cote d’Ivoire Net Late Winner To Book Semi-Final Berth

Host nation Cote d’Ivoire advanced to the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals after netting a late winner to defeat Mali in extra-time on Saturday night.

2023 Africa Cup of Nations

Result: Mali 1-2 Cote d’Ivoire

Date: 03 February 2024 

Venue: Stade de Bouaké

The Elephants made three changes from their penalty shootout win over Senegal in the round of 16, as Franck Kessie, Nicolas Pepe and Christian Kouame were recalled.

Mali had a bright start as they had a couple of penalty appeals turned down in the opening exchanges. 

However, the Eagles’ pressure eventually earned them a penalty on 16 minutes after a foul in the box. Adama Traore stepped up to take the penalty for Mali but his spot-kick was well saved by goalkeeper Yahia Fofana.

Eric Chelle’s charges continued to dominate the game and just before the interval forced Ivory Coast to be down to ten men after Odilon Kossounou got a second yellow card and was sent off. 

Emerse Fae made an attacking change at half-time in a bid to uplift their game going forward, as Sébastien Haller replaced Kouame. 

However, it was Mali who were on the front foot as Haidara forced a good save from Fofana with a long range effort.

As Ivory Coast continued to sit deep, they paid the price for it 20 minutes before time as Dorgeles Nene unleashed a rocket from range that left Fofafa flat-footed and found the top corner.

The Elephants came to life in the closing stages and Simon Adingra finally levelled matters in the last minute with a strike from a rebound in the box and the sides went to extra-time after a 1-1 draw in regulation time.

The hosts nation almost had a perfect start in extra-time after Haller guided a header in the six-yard box off the woodwork. 

Both sides were up for it in the closing stages of extra-time and Oumar Diakite was the hero, as he found the winner for Cote d’Ivoire with a back-heeled effort in the box. 

The host nation finished the game with nine men after Diakite got a second booking for taking off his shirt and he will now miss the semi-final against Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday.

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