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Tanzania fight back to edge Benin as Group J rivals trade road victories

Benin looked to be an excellent shape to take control of Group J following a road victory in Dar es Salaam against Tanzania, but the Taifa Stars rode an early precision strike from Simon Msuva to hit back and return the favor to Les Écureuils on Sunday in a 1-0 FIFA World Cup qualifying victory. Both teams remained tied on seven points at the top of the group, but their splitting of the points this week opens the door for DR Congo to seize the lead in the group if they can defeat Madagascar later in the day.

Msuva’s starring moment came in the 6th minute to stun the home crowd in Cotonou. The Wydad Casablanca forward attempted an adventurous dribbling run at the Beninese defense and took on defender Olivier Verdon, getting a fortunate bounce from the Ludogorets player’s attempted tackle. Msuva then proceeded to unleash a picturesque strike that sailed into the top corner past keeper Saturnin Allagbe and the Taifa Stars had a surprise lead.

Tanzania proceeded to stay back and absorb pressure from the hosts, who attempted to generate offense and break down their opponents. 20-year-old Amiens SC attacker Charbel Gomez provided some promising moments, sneaking behind the Tanzanian defense in the 35th minute but shooting in to the side netting from a tight angle. Just before halftime, Tanzania goalie Aishi Manula came up with a good kick save after veteran Benin forward Mickaël Poté provided a nifty flicked pass for David Kiki to shoot on goal.

Simba SC keeper Manula was in the right place in the right time on multiple occasions for Tanzania, denying a 59th minute header from Benin star striker Steve Mounié without too much trouble. Benin’s best chance to equalize came in the 72nd minute when Gomez created space on the left flank with slick dribbling before sending in a cross that found Poté, but his powerful snapped header was right at Manula.

Tanzania held out firmly to grab the essential three points and reignite their qualification hopes. Highlights are below in the button link.

Highlights from FIFA TV

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