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Sadio Mane on target as Senegal ease past Tunisia

January 15, 2017 9:19 PM
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Sadio Mane on target as Senegal ease past Tunisia

Sadio Mane was on target for Senegal as they won their opening game in the Africa Cup of Nations 2-0 against Tunisia.

Tunisia produced an excellent performance, missing a ridiculous amount of chances, but still lost to Senegal, who top Group B; Tunisia are bottom, with Zimbabwe and Algeria in between.

Tunisia started the game very well, Ahmed Akaichi missing a free header from a free-kick after just two minutes. But then on 9 minutes, Mane rolled a ball down the line for Cheikhou Kouyate, Aymen Abdennour needlessly brought him down, and Sadio Mane swept the penalty home.

There was time for Akaichi to miss another superb opportunity before Senegal doubled their advantage on the half-hour, Mbodji Kara thundering a header past Aymen Mathlouthi direct from Balde Keita's corner.

That looked like game over, and it was - but not in the way anyone expected. Tunisia totally dominated the second half, spurning ever more chances - Akaichi in particular - and well though Abdoulaye Diallo kept goal, he ought not to have sniffed the majority of the saves he made.

So though credit must go to Tunisia, not just for how well they played but for how well they stuck at it, but it made little difference at full-time; they are now fighting to stay in the tournament, while Senegal became its first match winners.

Why were did Senegal concede so many chances? Kalidou Koulibaly was pursued by Antonio Conte in the summer and has attracted significant praise for his performances at Napoli. But today, he and his chums were run ragged by the imagination and movement of the Tunisian attack. Granted, he they weren't afforded great protection, but even so, if they do not improve, Senegal's hopes of winning their first Cup of Nations will soon be over.

Abdoulaye Diallo (Senegal) Well though Tunisia played, their best players all contrived to miss huge chances - various of them saved, one way or another, but Diallo. He will never keep a spawnier clean sheet, but keep a clean sheet he did.

Senegal: Diallo 9, Gassama 6, Mbodji 5, Koulibaly 5, M'Bengue 5, Gueye 4, Kouyaté 5, P.N'Diaye 5, Mané 6, Keita 7, Diouf 5. Subs: Sarr 6, Saivet 6, Diop 6.

2' - Should score! Tunisia win a free-kick 40 yards out, right of centre, and Maloul curves in an absolute brute, Akaichi up at the back stick to glide a header just wide past the near post.

10' - GOAL! Tunisia 0-1 Senegal (Mane, pen) Mathlouthi shows Mane all of his right-hand side as he even moves left, and the ball is smacked there in short order.

30’ - GOAL! Tunisia 0-2 Senegal (Kara) Senegal win a corner down the right, Keita with it, and he picks out Mbodji in the middle. Catching it on the run, he powers a header that the flight of the ball takes into the far corner; Mathlouthi gets a hand on it, but his wrist isn't strong enough to keep it out.

53’ - Diouf wins a corner off Maaloul, but it's some time before it can be taken, due to various argy-bargy in the box Eventually, Keita clips it towards the near post, and again picks out a man - this time Diouf - who thunders a header wide.

58’ - This is lovely from Sliti, bisecting two defenders with a through-ball that picks out Akaichi in the middle. He squares, but Khazri can't convert, and then, seconds later, Akaichi is sent through at inside-right, rattling a shot against Diallo. Tunisia can't say they've not had chances.

58 - Tunisia win a corner down the left, it's curled in, and Diallo misses it - it looks like it curling in, but instead hits his knee and bounces out! Might that have been over the line?

69’ - Oh my! Khazri charges through the middle and eventually the ball breaks to him, but Koulibaly slides in and it squirts loose, so Kara looks to clear, instead slicing amazingly ineptly against his own post!

71’ - Oh man! Tunisia win a corner down the right after Kara heads behind, knocked short by Sliti to Maaloul. He looks a good player, and what a cross he sends in - though quite what's going on with the marking, who knows. Because Abdennour and Ben Yousef are both up, the latter heading down and wide with the net gaping.

Senegal have reached the final stages of the Cup of nations 13 times and never won it.


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