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AFCON 2023: How host knocked out defending champions, Senegal

AFCON 2023: How host knocked out defending champions, Senegal

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 TotalEneriges CAF Africa Cup of Nations 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 4 minutes in.

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.

The Elephants had the better of the first half but despite several near misses, a Senegalese wall of Kalidou Koulibaly and Abdou Diallo repelled everything thrown at them. 0-1 at halftime.

Senegal almost doubled their lead early in the second half when a speculative Ismaila Sarr effort forced a fingertip save. But 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 VAR reviewed the incident, Franck Kessie coolly sent Mendy the wrong way from the spot to equalize and send the home crowd into ecstasy.

In extra time, chances came and went for both sides but the scores remained level. In the shootout, each side netted their first 4 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.

But 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.

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