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AFCON 2023: Angola hold on to prevail in wild shootout with Mauritania

Fans in Bouaké were treated to a match with plenty of entertainment and goals on Saturday but it was Angolan supporters who left satisfied after their Palancas Negras came out on top with a 3-2 victory over Mauritania at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. Gelson Dala scored twice in addition to a goal scored by Gilberto for Angola, who move into top spot in Group D ahead of Burkina Faso on goal differential ahead of a duel with the Stallions on Tuesday. Mauritania, who found goals from Sidi Bouna Amar and Aboubakary Koita, now need a victory against Algeria to have any hope of progressing out of their group.

Urgency was shown from both sides who saw the match as their best opportunity to collect three points. After an even exchange of chances in the opening half hour it was Angola who struck first in the 30th minute when a corner kick service from playmaker Fredy fell kindly for Dala at the far post who bounced his shot into the goal over a group of Mauritanian defenders on the line as well as goalkeeper Babacar Niasse.

Mauritania did not back down and it was FC Nouadhibou attacker Sidi Bouna Amar who leveled in the 43rd minute with a perfectly placed effort after navigating past four Angolan defenders. Angola should have had the lead just before halftime but Petro de Luanda winger Gilberto inexplicably missed his follow up attempt after Niasse spilled a shot from Dala.

The second goal would arrive early in the second half for Angola and it was Dala’s brilliance that provided it, stealing the ball off Guessouma Fofana in the midfield and driving past multiple defenders before his shot deflected past Niasse. Dala was involved in the third goal three minutes later, producing a floated pass to find Mabululu. The striker had the ball tackled off him but Gilberto was there to collect and cut inside from the right wing where his shot deflected past the helpless Niasse.

Angolan supporters thought they could relax a bit but Mauritania pushed back with ferocity. Koita won the ball in midfield and had room to drive towards the box from the left wing for a fierce blast that was too powerful for Angola keeper Neblú, whose hand was not strong enough to prevent the ball from surging into the net. The Primeiro de Agosto shot stopper was sharper in the 72nd minute when he reacted well to parry away Amar’s deflected effort.

Koita and the Mauritanian attack pushed for the precious leveling goal but tactical changes allowed Angola to be more disruptive in the defense and midfield. The opportunities dried up for Mauritania who once again left the pitch disappointed despite a strong performance.

Highlights of the goal fest will be posted below when available.

Match Highlights

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