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Sangaré and Lassina Traoré help Burkina Faso get the job done against Niger without star players

A rejuvenated Niger side gave Burkina Faso all they could handle at times on Thursday, but Les Étalons came out on top in a 2-0 victory to get their FIFA World Cup qualifying efforts off to an ideal start. Shakhtar Donetsk striker Lassina Traoré converted from a penalty kick in the 76th minute and substitute forward Mohamed Konate finished the job three minutes later with his first international goal to ensure victory for Burkina Faso against their neighbors.

The concern for the Burkinabé side heading into the match was due to defensive stalwart Edmond Tapsoba’s absence as well as chief playmaker Bertrand Traoré, leaving the question of who was going to produce the moment of magic to help the Stallions find the net. In the first half those concerns were fully realized with Niger looking inspired and Burkina Faso looking quite poor. The Nigeriens had two opportunities fall the way of Amadou Moutari in the opening 20 minutes, with the Al Ain midfielder’s 4th minute snap shot being corralled by Burkinabé keeper Hervé Koffi. In the 16th minute, midfielder Ali Mohamed played an excellent pass to set up Moutari for a low shot that went wide of the goal.

Burkina Faso could provide no service to talented young striker Lassina Traoré in the first half until close to halftime and it took some time for the midfield to be engaged. The first look came in the 37th minute for the visiting team from Gustavo Sangaré’s ambitious strike around 40 yards out that forced Niger keeper Daouda Kassaly to parry away the ball rather than risk trying to catch it. Sangaré continued to assert himself, finding Traoré with the striker turning past his defender in the penalty area before Kassaly came up with an excellent save, following it up by tipping over Burkina Faso’s attempt to follow up.

Sangaré, only making his second appearance for the national team, emerged as a crucial part of the attack in the second half. His left foot was a constant threat to Niger, with a 55th minute shot from the edge of the penalty area being fired through a crowd by the 24-year-old before rattling off the crossbar. He then set up substitute Bryan Dabo with a through ball but Dabo’s final product was poor and brave goalkeeping by Kassaly denied any potential for a goal.

Finally the decisive moment came for the Burkinabé in the 75th minute. An aerial ball fell to Traoré just inside the Nigerien penalty area, where the 20-year-old lifted the ball over Youssef Oumarou before the defender tripped him up, causing the referee to whistle for a penalty kick. Traoré stepped up and converted a clutch spot kick to give his team the goal they needed. Only a few minutes later it was Sangaré again with the creative spark, sending a through ball to Konate. Konate had just come on and scored on his first touch when his shot was deflected and looped over a helpless Kassaly to clinch the three points.

Highlights of the match are in the link below.

FIFA TV Highlights

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