The Elephants of Ivory Coast showed class dismissing Mali 1-0 as Wilfried Zaha scored the winner for his team to reach the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals.
The Crystal Palace forward, Wilfried Zaha raced on to Sylvain Gbohouo’s deep free-kick and got to the ball before Mali goalkeeper Djigui Diarra to earn the ivorian their quarter final berth.
However, the Eagles of Mali had been wasteful with Moussa Marega and Moussa Djenepo both missing good scoring chances to take the game beyond the ivorians.
While, the Elephants have won the competition twice – in 1992 and 2015 – but only advanced through this year’s opening phase as runners-up after losing 1-0 to group winners Morocco.
Mali’s Moussa Djenepo, who this summer moved to Southampton from Standard Liege, posed a constant threat on the left wing but Marega scuffed a good chance wide at the near post when he failed to connect properly.
The Eagles of Mali Sporting CP forward HAbdoulay Diaby also had a free-kick turned over the bar by Ivory Coast goalkeeper Gbohouo before Djenepo wasted a good chance when he was indecisive in front of goal.
The Ivory Coast came more into the game after the break with Aston Villa’s Jonathan Kodjia being denied by Diarra.
However, Diarra was beaten a few minutes later when Zaha, who had been quiet throughout the match, reacted quickest to score in the 76th minute and take his country into the last eight.
Crystal Palace rejected a £40m bid from Arsenal for the Ivorian forward Wilfried Zaha last week as the transfer saga continues.
Photo credit: France 24
By Olukayode Oniwinde