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AFCON 2023: Late Mendes penalty qualifies Cape Verde to the quarterfinals

Cape Verde are through to the quarterfinals of the Africa Cup of Nations for the second time in their history following a 1-0 victory over Mauritania on Monday in Abidjan. Ryan Mendes converted an 88th minute penalty kick following a costly defensive error from Les Mourabitounes that led to a foul in the Mauritanian penalty area. The Blue Sharks await the winner between hosts Ivory Coast and Senegal who will duel later today.

The island nation showed more chemistry and capability on the ball, dominating possession throughout the match and tiring out their West African opponents. Cape Verde captain Mendes had two excellent opportunities within the opening ten minutes but sent his shot wide on both occasions.

Wasteful finishing from the favored Blue Sharks allowed Mauritania to work their way into the match and their direct style of play caused issues for the Cape Verdean defense. Forward Aboubakary Koita sent a dangerous free kick just side of Cape Verde goalkeeper Vozinha’s goal and two minutes later, Mauritania striker Souleymane Anne somehow put his effort just high and wide following a rapid counter-attack.

By the final half hour the Mauritanian side appeared to tire and the Cape Verdean attack began to lay siege. In the end it was a moment of indecision that benefited Cape Verde when a hopeful switch of play to the left wing saw Mauritania substitute Abdullahi Mahmoud attempt to head the ball back to goalkeeper Babacar Niasse. However, Cape Verde forward Gilson Tavares intercepted the pass and was tripped by Niasse as he went around the goalkeeper, resulting in Mendes smashing his penalty kick down the middle as Niasse dove to his right.

Video of the winning goal is below.

Match Highlights

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