African Cup of Nation favourites Senegal opened their campaign on Monday, securing a 1-0 victory over Zimbabwe. Sadio Mane stole the headlines by scoring the winner in a last-minute penalty that helped his team secure all three points at the Kouekong Stadium in Cameroon.
Heading into the game as the undisputed favourites, Senegal had a difficult time playing against a Zimbabwe side that defended diligently throughout the ninety minutes.
Restricting their opponents to just three shots on target, the defensive approach by Norman Mapeza’s team paid off quite well, until an unfortunate handball from Kevin Wilbert Madzongwe handed Senegal a penalty in the 94th minute.
The referee instantly pointed to the spot, and after a minute long check, the decision was upheld by VAR, allowing Sadio Mane the opportunity to seal the three points for his team late on in the proceedings.
The Liverpool superstar made no mistake in finding the back of the net, blasting the ball on the right hand side of Petros Mhari. The Zimbabwean goalkeeper had no chance of stopping the effort, with the goal ensuing a frenzied moment from the Senegalese players.
A 97th minute penalty from Sadio Mane sees Senegal start their #AFCON2021 campaign with a win 👏
Love it, Sadio! 🇸🇳pic.twitter.com/sVS6Hc3d9a
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 10, 2022
Aside from the goal, Mane was an ever-present figure in the attacking department, appearing to be the main danger man for the opposition. He won four of his seven dribbles, completed five key passes and created one big chance. He was accompanied in the attack by Cagliari’s Keita Balde and Villarreal’s Boulaye Dia, with coach Aliou Cisse also bringing on Habib Diallo around the hour mark.
Senegal’s win over Zimbabwe gives them an early headstart in the tournament. They will be in action once again on Friday when they take on Guinea.
Meanwhile, Liverpool fans can witness their other African superstar in Mohamed Salah in action tomorrow, as Egypt take on Nigeria in a blockbuster encounter at the Roumdé Adjia Stadium.