AFCON 2023: Cote d’Ivoire knock out Senegal, advance to Q’finals

After a disastrous group stage, Cote d’Ivoire showed tremendous resilience and spirit to dethrone Senegal, who will have to relinquish their title.

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AFCON 2023: Cote d’Ivoire knock out Senegal, advance to Q'finals
Cote d’Ivoire celebrating their victory

Hosts, Cote d’Ivoire pulled off a monumental upset by defeating defending champions, Senegal 5-4 on penalties, after extra time to advance to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) quarter-finals.

In front of a raucous home crowd at the Stade Charles Konan Banny in Yamoussoukro, Senegal made a blistering start and took the lead just four minutes into the match.

A superb cross from Sadio Mane found Habib Diallo, who calmly chested the ball down before firing a rocket into the top corner.

Stunned by conceding so early, the hosts gradually grew into the game with neat interplay in midfield between Franck Kessie and Jean Michael Seri.

Ibrahim Sangare posed a constant threat on the wing while strikers Sebastien Haller and Nicolas Pepe stretched Senegal’s defence.

BRANDPOWER reports that the Elephants had the better of the first half but in spite   several near misses, a Senegalese wall of Kalidou Koulibaly and Abdou Diallo,  repelled everything thrown at them.

Senegal almost doubled their lead early in the second half when a spectacular Ismaila Sarr’s effort forced a fingertip save. Cote d’Ivoire were unfazed and continued pressing.

The game turned on a pivotal 86th minute moment. Pepe burst into the box and was clumsily brought down by Edouard Mendy.

After a VAR-reviewed incident, Franck Kessie coolly sent Mendy the wrong way from the spot to equalise,  sending the home crowd into a frenzy mood.

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In extra time, chances came and went for both sides but the scores remained level.

In the shootout, each side netted their first four penalties.

But when Kalifa Coulibaly’s effort came off the upright, Kessie stepped up to smash home the winning kick, capping a remarkable turnaround for the hosts.

After a disastrous group stage, Cote d’Ivoire showed tremendous resilience and spirit to dethrone Senegal, who will have to relinquish their title.

The Elephants march on, redemption complete.

Few gave the Elephants hope coming into this last 16 clash against star-studded Senegal.

However, led by captain Serge Aurier, the spirited hosts fought until the end and rode their luck at times against profligate opponents.

This result blows the tournament wide open.

The defending champions are out, and the unfancied hosts, march on in dramatic style.