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VAR intervenes twice as Gambia and Mali trade penalties in 1-1 draw

A closely fought match saw Gambia and Mali each score from the penalty spot in the game’s final fifteen minutes and draw 1-1 in Group F play at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. Ibrahima Koné opened the scoring with a well taken penalty kick before Gambia’s Musa Barrow answered with a brilliant spot kick of his own late on. Both teams are tied on four points at the top of Group F as Gambia prepares to face Tunisia in their final match while Mali takes on Mauritania.

Mali dominated possession and the run of play throughout, but Gambia maintained a consistent threat on the counter-attack thanks to the individual talent up top. Neither team had a look until after the fifteen minute mark, when Mali full back Massadio Haïdara and attacker Moussa Djenepo each had half chances that failed to challenge Modou Jobe in the Gambian goal.

Gambia’s individual talent nearly put the Scorpions up from free kicks as Musa Barrow clanged the crossbar from an extraordinary 40 yard strike in the 21st minute. Ablie Jallow’s 38th minute curler was excellently crafted and had Mali keeper Ibrahim Mounkouro clearly beaten, but bounced back off the post. The AFCON debutants nearly went down just before halftime but Mali midfielder Yves Bissouma smashed his shot over the bar following a lay off from Haidara.

It seemed like only a matter of time until Mali’s opener would come with Les Aigles continuing to dominate the ball. Halftime substitute Adama Noss Traoré managed to find his way past two Gambian defenders to set up a clear shooting opportunity, but brave goalkeeping from Jobe kept the match scoreless. In the final quarter of the game Mali appeared to be on their way to victory when a Video Assistant Referee review judged that as Adama Malouda Traoré sent in a low cross, Bissouma was wrestled down by Gambia midfielder Ebou Adams for a foul in the penalty area. Koné had no issues sending Jobe the wrong way to put the Eagles up.

However, Gambia kept the match close and soon were handed their opportunity from a VAR review in the 90th minute. As substitute forward Ebrima Colley attempted to lift a pass to the center of the Malian penalty area, the ball struck Bissouma’s arm. Referee Samir Guezzaz and the officiating crew determined that Bissouma’s arm was away from his body and the penalty was awarded, which Barrow dispatched perfectly just inside the post to level the match.

Highlights of the match are below.

Musa Barrow and Ablie Jallow come close from first half free kicks

79′- Ibrahima Koné opens scoring from penalty spot for Mali

90′- Barrow equalizes from the spot after VAR intervenes for Gambia

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