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AFCON 2023: Mali do just enough to hold off Burkinabé comeback effort

An Edmond Tapsoba own goal and a strike from Lassine Sinayoko was enough for Mali to secure a 2-1 victory over Burkina Faso in their Round of 16 clash on Tuesday in Korhogo. Mali struck early in each half before the Burkinabé team was able to muster a comeback that came up just short after Stallions captain Bertrand Traoré converted from the penalty spot to cut the deficit in half. The victory for Mali sets up a West African quarterfinal duel with hosts Ivory Coast on Febrary 3 in Bouaké.

The Burkinabé team was not prepared for a fierce start from their Malian opponents and it took just over three minutes for the Eagles to pounce. Mali captain and right back Hamari Traoré found space on the flank and whipped in an excellent cross that found the head of Amadou Haidara, whose header rocketed back off the post and was inadvertently turned into the goal by Burkina Faso central defender Tapsoba.

Mali dominated possession through their superior midfield, reducing Burkinabé attacks to the flanks through right back Issa Kaboré. The Stallions had their best chance to equalize in the first half when Issoufou Dayo got on the end of a 12th minute corner kick but sent his header over the bar. Mali came close to doubling their lead before halftime on multiple occasions but Burkina Faso goalkeeper Hervé Koffi made a couple of saves to keep his team in the match.

Less than two minutes into the second half, however, Mali found their second goal. Hamari Traoré played in Sinayoko on the right flank and the Auxerre forward had far too much space to drive in on goal where he placed his finish between the legs of Koffi. Burkina Faso responded quickly less than ten minutes later when a Kaboré cross was handled by Mali central defender Kiki Kouyaté. Following a VAR review that determined a handball was committed in the penalty area, Bertrand Traoré sent Mali keeper Djigui Diarra the wrong way to cause concern among Malian supporters.

The Stallions pushed hard for the leveler but Diarra and the Malian defense remained strong while the midfield continued to make life difficult for the Burkinabé team. A free kick service in second half stoppage time found Dayo for an apparent goal but the offsides flag correctly went up to halt celebrations and Mali held on until the full time whistle.

Highlights of the match will be posted below when available.

Full Match Highlights

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