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Al Warfali header lifts Libya to dramatic comeback victory over Gabon in Benghazi

Libya went down early but were never daunted in their quest for a win in Wednesday’s FIFA World Cup qualifying home opener against Gabon, utilizing two headed goals to down the Panthers 2-1. Defenders Ali Salama and Sanad Al Warfali were the heroes in Benghazi for the Mediterranean Knights as Libya jumped out to an early lead in Group F over Egypt, Angola and Wednesday’s opponents.

Gabon had their full strength squad for the road trip, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and company found it difficult to settle in even after a stunning early goal gave them an advantage. In the 11th minute, a low cross found its way to Mario Lemina at the edge of the Libyan penalty area. The Nice midfielder held the ball up well before laying off to Andre Biyogho Poko, who first timed a beautiful curling effort from 25 yards out that went beyond the reach of Libyan keeper Mohamed Nashnush.

The visitors struggled to deal with aerial balls throughout the match, and Libya found their way back in through a 27th minute set piece. A corner kick found a wide open Salama, who directed a well placed header from ten yards out to the corner, where Gabon custodian Anthony Mfa Mezui got a hand to the shot but not strong enough to keep the ball out. 1-1 was the score at halftime as the Libyans caused Gabon more and more concern.

Shortly after the break, Aubameyang had a chance to stretch his legs and nearly got the Panthers back into the lead. A well weighted through ball from Jim Allevinah put the Arsenal man behind the defense but Aubameyang blasted his shot off the crossbar and over. The miss would prove costly in the end for the Gabonese.

Just when it seemed that the match was destined to end deadlocked, the Libyans provided their home fans with a worthy winning goal in the 89th minute. Following a cleared corner kick, Mohamed Zaabia received the ball and whipped in an early cross for Raja Casablanca center back Al Warfali to leap up and meet with a perfect header. The ball looped over Mfa Mezui and went in off the underside of the crossbar to give Libya a massive victory and start their campaign off in ideal fashion.

Highlights of the match are in the link below.

FIFA TV Highlights

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