Ivory Coast staged a stunning comeback to secure a thrilling 2-1 victory over Mali in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals, providing fans with a dramatic last-gasp spectacle.
Mali initially seized the lead with a remarkable strike from Nene Dorgeles, capitalizing on the hosts’ disadvantage following Odilon Kossounou’s first-half red card. However, the Ivorians refused to surrender, and Simon Adingra’s 90th-minute equalizer forced the match into extra time. In a nail-biting finale, Ivory Coast clinched the win through Oumar Diakite’s decisive goal, but the celebrations were marred by subsequent red cards for Diakite and Mali’s Hamari Traore.
The early stages of the match saw Mali squander a prime opportunity as Adama Traore’s penalty was expertly saved by Ivorian keeper Yahia Fofana. Kossounou’s clumsy foul on Lassine Sinayoko in the box led to the penalty, but Fofana’s agile save denied Mali an early lead.
Adama Traore continued to trouble Ivory Coast’s defense, with his appeals for a free-kick dismissed by the referee, who issued a yellow card for simulation. The Elephants had their chances, but Seko Fofana’s powerful strike sailed over the bar just before halftime.
The tide turned against the hosts when Kossounou received a second yellow card and was sent off, leaving Ivory Coast with 10 players. Sinayoko exploited the advantage, causing chaos before a cynical challenge from Kossounou earned him a red card as well.
Mali intensified their efforts in the second half, and after 71 minutes, they secured the breakthrough with a sensational goal from substitute Dorgeles. Born in Ivory Coast, Dorgeles exploited the free space, unleashing a dipping shot into the top corner, a goal that will surely contend for the tournament’s best.
In a dramatic turn of events, Ivory Coast equalized in the 90th minute. Adingra, a Brighton winger and substitute, capitalized on a defensive error to smash home the crucial goal.
The decisive moment came in the last minute of extra time when Ivory Coast secured the victory through Seko Fofana’s free-kick, with Diakite providing the crucial touch to send the ball into the net. However, the joyous celebrations were short-lived as Diakite received a second yellow card for removing his shirt during the revelry, and Hamari Traore of Mali was shown a straight red.
The thrilling quarter-final clash ended with Ivory Coast advancing to the semi-finals, setting the stage for more gripping encounters in the Africa Cup of Nations.