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Burkina Faso outlasts Gabon in dramatic penalty shootout victory

Gabon came back time and time again on Sunday but it was Burkina Faso who finally emerged as the victors in their Round of 16 matchup at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. Following a 1-1 draw through extra-time, Les Étalons prevailed 7-6 in a penalty kick shootout when substitute midfielder Ismahila Ouédraogo converted his spot kick to send Burkina Faso into the quarterfinals. The Stallions will play the winner between Nigeria and Tunisia.

In the opening stages the Burkinabé team was put under pressure by an eager Gabon attack. However, it was Burkina Faso who had the first excellent opportunity. In the 14th minute, right back Issa Kaboré drove past Johann Obiang to get inside the Gabonese penalty area and headed for the end line to send in a cross. Immediately after releasing the ball Kaboré was taken down by Sidney Obissa and the referee pointed to the spot, giving Obissa a yellow card. Burkinabé captain Bertrand Traoré stepped up for the kick but blasted his effort off the crossbar, keeping the match scoreless.

Traoré would make up for his error ten minutes later. Center back Edmond Tapsoba slid a pass over to 19-year-old forward Dango Ouattara, who had plenty of space to move into before picking out Traoré with an excellent pass to send the Aston Villa attacker in on goal. Gabon goalkeeper Jean-Noël Amonome ran far out of his box to close down but Traoré hit a low shot past the keeper that glanced off the post and into the goal.

Gabon looked to be the more threatening team but were down 1-0 at halftime. Les Panthères manager Patrice Neveu made three attacking substitutions and the Gabonese poured forward in numbers to open the match up. In the 64th minute, Gabon came close when Burkinabé midfielder Adama Guira was dispossessed by Guelor Kanga right outside his own penalty area, but center back Soumaïla Ouattara did excellently to scramble back and knock Kanga off the ball.

The next twist in the match came when Burkina Faso got out on the break and Dango Ouattara beat two defenders before attempting to play a combination with Traoré, being taken down by Obissa as he attempted to sprint into the penalty area. It was a second yellow for Obissa and Gabon were down to ten men. Burkina Faso had a couple of opportunities set up by excellent dribbling runs from Traoré but could not finish. The Stallions would pay dearly in stoppage time when a corner kick came in and Burkinabé midfielder Adama Guira sent the ball into his own goal as he attempted to clear.

Gabon played more defensive in extra-time and neither team threatened throughout the thirty minutes, necessitating a shootout. Burkina Faso had a chance to surge ahead when Kanga missed Gabon’s fourth penalty, but Burkinabé substitute Saïdou Simporé blasted over and Gabon remained in it. Following several rounds of success for both teams, the next chance for Burkina Faso came when Gabon’s Yannis N’Gakoutou shot over but Abdoul Tapsoba’s penalty was well saved by Amonome. However, Gabon’s luck ran out when their next penalty was shot off the crossbar by Lloyd Palun and young Ouédraogo kept his nerve to send Amonome the wrong way, capping a match full of twists and turns.

Highlights of the match are below.

Penalty kick shootout highlights

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