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Outstanding Ouattara sends Burkina Faso through to AFCON semifinals

A stout defense and excellent counter attacking football earned Burkina Faso a 1-0 victory over Tunisia on Saturday to send Les Étalons through to the semifinals at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. Dango Ouattara scored the winning goal in the final seconds of the first half and the Burkinabé defense did the rest to hold off an inefficient Tunisian attack. Burkina Faso await the winner of Sunday’s matchup between Senegal and Equatorial Guinea.

The Stallions came out inspired and looked to take the game to their Tunisian counterparts. Another sluggish start did the Tunisians no favors and it took until close to the half hour mark before the Carthage Eagles posed any threat to the Burkinabé goal. In the 24th minute, Burkina Faso had their first good chance to open the scoring when forward Cyrille Bayala snuck by Tunisia right back Mohamed Dräger, but his shot from a tight angle was kept out by goalkeeper Bechir Ben Saïd.

Tunisia playmaker Wahbi Khazri had the first look on goal for the Carthage Eagles, hitting a fierce free kick that required Burkinabé keeper Hervé Koffi to tip the ball over the bar. Burkina Faso remained a threat on the counter, however, and in the final seconds of first half stoppage time Les Étalons struck. Midfielder Gustavo Sangaré won the ball near his own corner flag and did well to find striker Djibril Ouattara in the midfield, who held the ball up to lay off to Blati Touré. Touré sent in a streaking Dango Ouattara down the right flank and the Lorient player cut back inside on the dribble, freezing two Tunisian defenders before blasting by Ben Saïd.

It was a devastating goal right before halftime and forced Tunisia to chase the game, something the North African side has not been comfortable doing in Cameroon. Burkina Faso’s deadly counter-attack only added to Tunisia manager Mondher Kebaier’s tactical difficulties and the Carthage Eagles failed to break down the Burkinabé defense led by central defender Edmond Tapsoba. Even after a Video Assistant Referee review resulted in a straight red card for Dango Ouattara in the final ten minutes, Burkina Faso were able to hold out with relative comfort.

Video of the winning goal from Ouattara is below.

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