By: Gyang Dakwo
Holders Senegal tumbled out of the Africa Cup of Nations after a drama-filled 5-4 loss to host Ivory Coast following a 1-1 draw at the Charles Konan Banny Stadium in their last-16 clash on Monday.
Senegal were quick out the blocks and took the lead inside four minutes as Sadio Mane’s cross from the left was chested down by Habib Diallo, whose thunderous shot from 10-yards settled in the top corner of the net.
Mane was fortunate not to get a red card shortly after that following a poor challenge, but Senegal could not add to their lead and paid the price when the Ivorians were awarded a clear penalty and equalised through Franck Kessie four minutes from the end of the 90 minutes.
The game went into extra time and then penalties where the unfortunate Moussa Niakhate missed his side’s third kick as he struck the post and the Ivorians held their nerve to secure a place in the quarter-finals.
The Ivorians were in disarray just days ago. Hammered 4-0 in a record loss on home soil by Equatorial Guinea, they were on the verge of elimination and sacked coach Jean-Louis Gasset, replacing him with assistant Emerse Fae.
However standings in other groups saw them squeeze into the last-16 and they put up a much-improved display against a Senegal side that had won all three of their pool matches with relative ease.
Cote D’Ivoire will now face the winner of Tuesday’s last-16 tie between Mali and Burkina Faso in the quarter-finals on Saturday.