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AFCON 2023: Ivory Coast eliminates defending champions Senegal in penalty shootout

Ivory Coast received a second chance at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations following a disastrous group stage and the hosts snatched their opportunity on Monday, defeating defending champions Senegal with a 5-4 victory in penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw. Franck Kessié equalized late in the second half to cancel out an early strike from Senegal striker Habib Diallo then the Al Ahli midfielder converted the winning penalty kick to send his team to the quarterfinals. The hosts will face the winner of tomorrow’s match between Mali and Burkina Faso on February 3.

Ivorian supporters prepared for the worst yet again after a disastrous start left the Elephants behind within the opening five minutes. Senegal star Sadio Mané was isolated on the left wing and made a quick turn to evade two Ivorian defenders before lofting a cross into the penalty area. Diallo chested the ball down and fired a shot past Ivory Coast goalkeeper Yahia Fofana into the roof of the net to put the defending champions ahead. Mané was perhaps fortunate to avoid a red card when his boots made contact with the shin of Ivorian midfielder Ibrahim Sangaré five minutes later.

But it was clearly a different Ivorian team from the team that capitulated in the group stage. The Elephants had the majority of possession and wore down the Senegalese team over the course of the first half and the second half even if opportunities did not arrive freely. Senegal keeper Édouard Mendy made his first big save in the 74th minute from a Franck Kessie header and then denied Nicolas Pépé four minutes later.

In the 81st minute the moment arrived for the hosts when a switch of play from the left wing by substitute Sébastien Haller sent Pépé in on goal where he was tripped by Mendy for a penalty kick after a VAR review. Kessié fired his penalty just beyond the reach of Mendy to equalize. Extra time was needed but failed to provide a winner despite Ivory Coast continuing to look like the more dangerous team.

Penalty kicks were needed and the Ivorians delivered in front of the home supporters. A spot kick off the post and wide from Senegal central defender Moussa Niakhaté on his team’s third attempt opened the door for the Elephants took advantage, converting all five of their kicks with Kessié leaving Mendy stuck in cement as he dispatched the winning penalty with ease.

Highlights and the penalty kick shootout will be posted below when available.

Match Highlights

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