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Heroic Owono comes up big in Equatorial Guinea’s penalty shootout shock over Mali

The Nzalang Nacional of Equatorial Guinea will compete in their third Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal in three attempts following a 6-5 penalty kick shootout win over Mali on Wednesday. After a scoreless draw through 120 minutes, goalkeeper Jesús Owono became the hero for a second straight match by saving Falaye Sacko’s spot kick attempt to send his team on to a quarterfinal matchup against Senegal.

There was little attacking initiative in the encounter and favorites Mali lacked efficiency when attempting to take the game to their opponents. The first half was particularly poor from Les Aigles as Equatorial Guinea set up a solid defensive base before attempting to venture forward as the match wore on. Amadou Haidara had the best look for Mali in the 33rd minute after he took down a free kick from Hamari Traoré, but could not get clean contact on his shot attempt.

Following the halftime break, Mali were a bit more daring but failed to hit the target on all ten of their shot attempts. An excellent chance fell the way of young midfielder Mohamed Camara when he received a pass from Yves Bissouma with space to shoot from eight yards out, but the Red Bull Salzburg player sent his attempt far too high and over the bar. Substitute Moussa Djenepo attempted to make an impact but soon after coming on, his 72nd minute shot was deflected wide.

The struggles continued for the Eagles in attack. Camara was set up by a cross from Hamari Traoré towards the end of 90 minutes, but once again fired over. Extra time followed after regulation and Equatorial Guinea finally put a shot on target in the 95th minute, but after Basilio Ndong’s long range effort skipped in front of Malian goalkeeper Ibrahim Mounkoro the TP Mazembe shot stopper did well to fight off the effort.

Penalties were necessary after each team only put one shot on target over 120 minutes, and the drama was saved for the end. Equatorial Guinea captain Emilio Nsue started off the shootout by blasting his spot kick over the bar to give Mali an early edge, but on the third attempt for the Eagles, left back Massadio Haïdara’s attempt was well saved by Owono.

It appeared Mali were finished when their next attempt was blasted over by Hamari Traoré, but Mounkoro came up with a massive save on Pablo Ganet to keep his team in it. After each team converted their next two attempts, Owono finally sealed Equatorial Guinea’s upset by denying Sacko’s effort and the team celebrated jubilantly after the Video Assistant Referee confirmed Owono stayed on his line.

The full penalty shootout is below.

Entire Penalty Kick Shootout


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