Thursday 14 December 2017

Yatabare nicks incredible point for spirited Mali

Angola 4
Mali 4
Group A

Angola's Flavio reacts after scoring his side’s second goal against Mali
Angola's Flavio reacts after scoring his side’s second goal against Mali

Mustapha Yatabare slid in a dramatic equaliser deep into stoppage-time to help Mali complete an astonishing comeback in the opening match of the African Nations Cup against hosts Angola in Luanda last night.

Trailing 4-0 and seemingly playing for pride after a brace from Flavio Amado and penalties from Gilberto and Manucho had put the home side 4-0 up with just 11 minutes remaining, Seydou Keita gave the Eagles hope when he scrambled the ball home from a Carlos Fernandes error.

But Frederic Kanoute glanced home a fine header to halve the deficit in the 87th minute, before a second from Keita in time added on and Yatabare's effort completed a sensational turnaround which stunned the home fans at the Estadio 11 de Novembro.

It all looked so different moments earlier after the Black Antelopes had raced ahead to help lift a sombre mood on day one of the competition, which has been marred by an attack on the Togo team which left three people dead.

Manuel Jose's men began sprightly with Flavio firing the first shot on goal from 25 yards out, and the hosts took the lead in the 37th minute. It came when the visitors needlessly brought down Manucho just outside the penalty area on the left. Gilberto cleverly sought out Flavio with the ensuing free-kick instead of going for goal and his cross was powerfully met by the Al-Shabab striker to leave Sidibe stranded.

The Malians were rocked and it was 2-0 five minutes later. Mabina found an unmarked Flavio with his cross from the right and the ball was again impressively headed in to hand the hosts a 2-0 half-time lead.

Angola went 3-0 up in the 67th minute after a fine counter-attack led to Mamadou Bagayoko bringing down Gilberto in the penalty area.

The Al-Ahly midfielder stood up to take the spot-kick himself, scoring with both attempts after he was asked to retake his first one due to players entering the box too early.

Just seven minutes later Keita bizarrely conceded another penalty when Gilberto was for the second time hauled back in the area.

This time Manucho stepped forward to send Sidibe the wrong way. There was still time for Mali to attempt a comeback and they were gifted a goal 11 minutes from the end when Fernandes spilt a poor corner and Keita bundled the ball in.

Kanoute halved the deficit with a powerfully glanced header with three minutes left and when the fourth official signalled four additional minutes it seemed to deflate the hosts.

They took their foot of the pedal and Keita's angled finish was followed by Yatabare's 94th minute goal -- after Fernandes could only parry into his path -- to hand Stephen Keshi's side a share of the spoils.

'The show must go on'

Vincent Hogan's verdict, page 32

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