The Teranga Lions of Senegal have become the first nation to check-in for Sunday’s final after securing a 3-1 victory over Burkinafaso.
Goals from Sadio Mane, Abdou Diallo and Idrissa Gueye in the last 20 minutes were all Aliou Cisse’s men needed to reach back to back finals.
Senegal came into the game having edged Equatorial Guinea in the last eight while Burkinafaso ousted Nigeria’s nemesis Tunisia in their own Quarterfinal game. Similarly, Sadio Mane and his team were riding on the back of an 11-game unbeaten run.
The first half ended goalless but with some headline events where Burkinafaso changed their goalkeeper due to injury as well as a VAR check, hence eight added minutes were played.
And the second half also was in a similar vein with a VAR check also present.
The first thirty minutes didn’t really see much from both sides but only a few times when Senegal goaltender Edouard Mendy was called into action making a simple save.
However on the half-hour mark, Burkina goalie Koffi came out to get the ball with his hands but collided very hard against Cheikhou Kouyate who initially left the field. Four minutes later the Referee didn’t sanction a penalty. Burkinafaso had to replace goalkeeper Koffi who suffered injury in the process with Farid but Kouyate returned.
In the 38th Mendy was called to another save again, but this time he has to pull an extraordinary one to deny Hassane Bande who shot close at his goal.
The sixth minute of added time in the first half saw more nail-biting action as Tapsoba’s hand hit a Mendy shot and the Referee signalled penalty! However he annulled his decision and cancelled the yellow card he issued after a VAR review two minutes later.
Goalless it ended in the first 45′ and the second half also began in a similar fashion.
Senegal broke the deadlock 20 minutes from time after Koulibaly’s bicycle kick from a corner came to Diallo who sent the ball into the back of the net.
Seven minutes later the Lions of Teranga doubled their advantage through Idrissa Gueye. Sadio Mane who looked like chasing a lost cause won the ball of a defender on the byline and cut it back to two of his teammates Dieng, the faster of the two shot but his effort was guided home by the second Idrissa Gueye.
The Stallions pulled one back but Sadio Mane confirmed victory for Aliou Cisse’s men three minutes from stoppage time as a Senegalese counterattack pitted Mane racing through a one-on-one. The Liverpool man dinked the ball over outstepping goalie Farid into the net.
3 – Senegal have reached their third Africa Cup of Nations final in the 21st century (2002, 2019, 2021), only Egypt have played in more over this period (4). They have become the first team to play in consecutive finals since Egypt in 2010 (3)Quick stat
It’s the second time Senegal will make it to the finals under Aliou Cisse’s toutledge with the first being three years ago in Egypt where they lost a lone goal to Algeria.
Senegal have had the easiest route on paper to the final having faced the likes of Zimbabwe, Guinea, Malawi, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea and now Burkinafaso. There have been calls for Aliou Cisse’s boys to step things up infront of goal but netting thrice tonight shows they might have found their rythym ahead of Sunday’s final where they will either face hosts Cameroon or all-time champions Egypt as they gun to win their first ever Afcon crown.