10-man Ivory Coast stage remarkable late comeback to beat Mali 2-1 and reach Africa Cup semifinals

10-man Ivory Coast stage remarkable late comeback to beat Mali 2-1 and reach Africa Cup semifinals

By Associated Press

BOUAKÉ: Oumar Diakité scored in stoppage time of extra time to send 10-man Ivory Coast into the semifinals of the Africa Cup of Nations with a dramatic 2-1 win over northern neighbor Mali on Saturday.

After playing with 10 men for the entire second half, tournament host Ivory Coast actually finished the match with nine players as Diakité was booked for excessive celebrations amid scenes of unbridled joy among nearly 40,000 fans in the Stadium of the Peace in Bouaké.

It was Diakité’s second yellow card, meaning he will miss the semifinal match against Congo on Wednesday.

Simon Adingra had equalized with the host nation’s first shot on target in the 90th minute to send it to extra time, and Diakité completed a thrilling comeback by scoring in what was the 122nd minute of the game.

Ivory Coast had been heading for a disappointing exit after Mali substitute Nene Dorgeles broke the deadlock with a brilliant strike from distance inside the top right corner in the 71st.

The Eagles had enjoyed a player advantage from the 43rd, when Odilon Kossounou was sent off with his second yellow card for a tactical foul to stop Mali forward Lassine Sinayoko.

Kossounou’s first yellow came earlier after conceding a penalty for his challenge on Sinayoko. Ivorian goalkeeper Yahia Fofana saved Adama Traoré’s spot kick.

The penalty scare prompted more commitment from Ivory Coast, which had been outplayed, but Mali’s defense largely coped with the Elephants’ charge, especially after Kossounou was sent off.

Dorgeles’ goal promoted a late push for an equalizer, but Mali goalkeeper Djigui Diarra was untroubled until Adingra prodded the ball home after Seko Fofana’s initial effort was blocked.

It prompted an explosion of joy in the stadium. Security had to haul away a photographer who left his position to join in the players’ celebrations.

Fans watching on large screens in Abidjan flipped into party mode, jumping, dancing and celebrating, but the real party only started after Diakité’s late winner.

Surprise teams Cape Verde and South Africa played in Yamoussoukro later Saturday for the last semifinal place against Nigeria.