Senegal 1-0 Benin: Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final – as it happened

Paul Doyle on 10 July 2019

Full-time: Senegal 1-0 Benin

A second-half improvement and a lovely goal by Idrissa Gueye keeps Senegal on course for their first ever Africa Cup of Nations title. The favourites will play either Madagascar or Tunisia in the semi-final. Benin, meanwhile, bow out after a gallant tournament. They made it tough for Senegal here and were only beaten by a flash of real quality.

90+2 min: Now Mounié sees yellow, for brushing his marker with his hand as both jumped for the ball. Again: ridiculously harsh.

90+1 min: Mané gets a yellow card. It’s not clear what it was for, possibly handball, which would be ridiculously harsh because he knew nothing about it ricocheting off an opponent on to his arm.

90 min: The Squirrels have at least five more minutes to pull a rabbit from the hat, which looks as improbable as it sounds.

Senegal substitution: Sané on, Gueye off. The Everton man took charge in the second half and showed the dynamism and quality that looks like sending his country to the semi-final.

89 min: Note: Diatta has done more since coming on than Balde has done in the whole tournament, both going forward and defensively.

87 min: A wonderful run by Mané, who has dramatically upped his game in this half, although, having said that, that run came undone when the pass at the end of it went straight to an opponent.

85 min: Diagne strokes the freekick over the five-man wall but not with the kind of power that could worry Allagbé, who saves easily.

RED CARD!

84 min: Mane and Gueye combine brilliantly again, the Liverpool man picking out the Evertonian’s bursting run from deep. Verdon pulls him down at the edge of the area and there’s only one thing the referee can do about that.

82 min: Senegal don’t look like letting this slip; they took the lead by cranking up the quality and they haven’t dropped it since.

Benin substitution: Djigla on, Soukou off.

79 min: Kouyaté dinks a freekick into the Beninese box. Verdon ducks to let it run to the keeper, which it does despite the fact that Diagne tried to intervene.

Benin substitution: Dossou on, Poté off.

77 min: Pandemonium in the Benin box and Senegal carve them open again and seem certain to score ... but three last-ditch clearances foil Diagne and Mané!

76 min: No goal! Mané is deemed to have been ahead of Barazé when the pass was made. The Var officials must have a different angle to the one shown to me, because he looked level to me.

Var review pending ...

74 min: Mané dashes on to a through-ball and rounds the keeper and before slotting home and wheeling away in celebration - but it is it a goal? That’s for Var to decide....

72 min: Senegal, buoyed by the opening goal, want to kill the game right now: Diatta hurtles down the right and picks out Mane with a low pass into the centre. Allagbe makes a super save to deny him, and then Mama makes an even better tackle to prevent Senegal scoring on the rebound!

GOAL! Senegal 1-0 Benin (Gueye 70)

Senegal show their class at last and help themselves to a brilliant goal! Gueye started it by fizzing a pass from midway to Mané near the D, then dashing forward for the return ball, which Mané provided. And Gueye crowned it with a sharp finish!

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Benin substitution: Mama on, D’Almeida off - he must be tired, otherwise there was no case to bring him off.

66 min: Sabalay rolls the ball back to Gomis, who takes his eye off it and, in trying to stroke it to another defender, shanks a kick ridiculously close to his own goal! When he sees it spins just wide of his post he thanks his lucky stars, and apologises to his teammates! In a way, that would have been a suitable way for Seengal to go out, as they just haven’t been truly at it and far far below the sum of their parts.

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Senegal substitution: Diatta on, Balde off. It had to be done.

65 min: Koulibaly plays another good pass over the top for Sabalay, who scampers down the left and into the box but then blazes a wild cross to nowhere useful.

Senegal substitution: Diagne on, Niang goes off on a stretcher, seemingly after incurring some manner of muscle strain.

61 min: D’Almeida, who has been very lively throughout but especially in thes second half, nicks the ball off Gueye and then gets accidentally clobbered by the Everton midfielder. That gives Benin a freekick in a very useful crossing position to the right o the Senegalese box. Soukou’s delivery is good. Verdon gets up well but can’t keep his header down, nodding over the bar from 10 yards.

60 min: Olivier Verdon, who is wearing No6 and has “OV6” shaved into the side of his head just in case he forgets who he is, is penalised for an awkward tackle about 23 yards from his goal. Saivet steps up to take the freekick ... and curls it high and wide.

58 min: Some swish play by Senegal! They raised the tempo of their passing and suddenly looked much sharper. Mane produced a touch of class to help a fizzed pass on to Niang, whose first touch near the penalty spot was good, but Adilehou made a tremendous tackle to stop him getting off a shot.

56 min: Sabaly chips a cross to no one.

54 min: Saivet delivers another dangerous freekick. Koulibaly flicks it on and Mané finishes with a close-range nod into the net! Senegla have the breakthrough! Except. no, they don’t! Because Mane was offside - not when the freekick was taken, but when Koulibaly helped it on. The officials, in fairness, didn’t need Var to get that right.

52 min: D’Almeida robs the ball off Mané in midfield. AM I right that Yeovil let this lad go at the end of last season?

50 min: From out by the right-hand touchline Saivet sends in an inviting freekick. Niang tries to chest it into the net from 10 yards. It has neither the power nor the accuracy to bother keeper. Why he eschewed the diving header there, I’ve no idea.

48 min: Beautiful play by Soukou down the right. After nutmegging a defender he races down the ring and sends a low cross towards Mounié, who is coming on to it at high speed near the penalty area. He fails to make a proper connection but the ball runs through to Poté, who takes it under control and tries to guide a low curler past the keeper from 16 yards, but he doesn’t catch it very cleanly and Gomis gets down to make a comfortable save. In summary, brilliant by Gomis, not so hot from Benin’s forwards.

Senegal’s Lamine Gassama and Benin’s Cebio Soukou fight for the ball.
Senegal’s Lamine Gassama and Benin’s Cebio Soukou fight for the ball. Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AP

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47 min: D’Almeida gets back to intercept a pass from Mané. Moments later the Yeovil man joins an attack and tries to finish it in style, letting fly from 25 yards with an efforts that whistles past the post.

46 min: Mounié starts the second half...

Half-time: Senegal 0-0 Benin

Benin will be satisfied with that: Senegal had most of the ball but seldom looked like doing anything with it, while Benin threatened on rare counter-attacks, especially from setpieces. The Squirrels can fancy their chances of nicking this! The favourites need to improve big time by moving themselves and the ball faster and smarter.

45+1 min: More snappy play from Senegal - that narrow escape a few minutes ago has perked them right up! Except Niang, apparently, because he gets the ball stuck at his feet after being presented with it in the box. Benin converge on him and clear.

45 min: Koulibably unlocks the Benin defence with another fine ball from deep. Sabaly takes it down on the left and looks up to see Mane free in the centre, begging for a tap-in! But Sabaly’s pass is dreadful, straight to the backtracking Verdon, who clears gratefully!

44 min: Soukou is aghast to be booked after winning the ball via a fine sliding tackle on Ndiaye, after which he got up and blasted into the net from the edge of the area. Soukou’s baffled anger is understandable: I don’t think that was a foul, let alone a bookable offence! Senegal are lucky to be level.

42 min: One cute pass from Gueye aside, there is no creative quality coming from Senegal’s midfield. Mané and Balde are having to make do with raking long balls from the back, chiefly from Koulibaly. There’s a sad lack of inspiration from them, and Benin have been comfortable for most of the match despite having less possession.

40 min: Mané battles and tricks his way past three players down the left and then sneaks the ball through to Gueye, who overhits his cross.

38 min: A sharp move down the left by Senegal, led by Balde and then given a dangerous injection by Gueye, who flipped a lovely pass through to Niang. The striker shows tidy feet to trick his way past one and then goes down under a challenge by Adeoti. He looks to the ref for a penalty but nothing doing. Good decision.

36 min: Senegal pounce on a bit of sloppiness in midfield by Benin and then hurtle forward, enticed by a rare gap in Benin’s defence. But then Senegalese players get in their own way and offer Benin a chance to recover. The chances evaporates.

34 min: Adeoti takes a Senegalese clearance down on his chest and then swats the bouncing ball with his right foot at goal from over 25 yards. It’s an elegant try but Gomis isn’t about to let it go past him and makes a comfortable catch.

32 min: Saivet produces a vicious delivery from a deep freekick from the left, whipping it over the last defender. Koulibaly does his best to try to get a decisive touch on it but just misses.

31 min: Mounié is playing the lone frontman role very well here. He’s everywhere, showing his strength, nimble footwork and intelligence by winning and holding up the ball and bringing teammates into play.

30 min: That’s better from Senegal! Mané, barely involved in the last while, takes down a long ball and then stabs a cute pass through towards Niang. But the keeper charged off his line to claim it before the striker.

29 min: The threat from Benin is growing and Senegal’s reaction is not impressive - they are looking downright sluggish. When Benin play their way in down the left, Senegal are lucky that Soukou does not realise how much time and space he has in the box, as he tries to pick out a poorly placed teammates when he had a clear sight of goal himself.

27 min: Soukou curls a low freekick into the danger zone. Poté tries to flick it into the net from seen yards, but it flies just wide! So close to the strike against the run of play that Benin are counting on.

26 min: Kouyaté is adjudged, rather harshly, to have pushed over Soukou just outside the left-hand corner of the Senegalese box. A chance for Benin, then ...

24 min:As a sign of Benin’s rising ambition - or lack of options going forward - Soukou has a pop from 30 yards. It trickles a few yards wide.

23 min: Saivet swings in a corner from the left. Mounié heads it to safety.

21 min: Souku sends a long freekick from the right into the mixer. Mounié challenges for it with Gomis, and, inevitably, the referee blows for a foul against the keeper. We’ve heard more of the whistle than of the djembes so far. This really is a punctilious official.

19 min: Benin have enjoyed a little more possession in the last couple of minutes. They’ll be happy with the start to this game, as although Senegal have had most of the play, there has been little threat.

17 min: The referee inadvertently blocks a pass by Adeoti and then blows the whistle to stop play and give the ball back to Benin.

15 min: On a rare venture into Senegalese territory, Adeoti draws a foul from Gueye. It’s mid-way inside the Senegalese half and it comes to nothing.

13 min: A nice one-two twixt Mané and Niang works a shooting opportunity for the Liverpool man; the keeper smothers his close-range shot well before looking up to see if needn’t have bothered, because Mané was offside. It’s all Senegal.

11 min: Sabaly’s cross from the left takes a deflection and forces the keeper into a quick readjustment at the near post. He gathers it safely at the second attempt.

9 min: Koulibaly drops a ball from the centre circle over the top of the Benin defence and into the path of Mané, who bent his run smartly before taking the ball down on his chest at the edge of the area. But two Benin defenders react quickly to bundle him away.

7 min: Verdon beats Mane to a pass into the right-hand channel and puts it out for a throw-in near the corner flag. Senegal take it quickly and Gassama tries to wriggle into space for a cross but has to settle for a corner. Saviet will deliver again: will Poté go for it after the fearful blow he copped when clearing the last one? No need, because Saviet couldn’t get it past the first man.

6 min: Poté returns to the action and goes straight back into defensive mode as Benin continue trying to fend off Senegal, who are probing patiently.

4 min: As Poté is taken off on a stretcher - seemingly indicating that he will be able to return - the Senegalese fans in the sparsely populated stadium play their djembes and dance in unison.

3 min: Senegal have taken the initiative from the start and are playing very much in the Beninese half. Their first corner is delivered towards the near post by Saivet. Poté does well to get to to it before Koulibaly and then clashes heads with the defender. It looked painful and he needs treatment.

1 min: A blast of the referee’s whistle is the signal for Senegal to get the game going. That official, by the way, is Moutapha Ghorbal of Algeria, who also took of charge of Senegal’s win over Uganda in the last round: he has a decidedly inconsistent approach that day, dishing out very severe bookings but then deciding against giving a second to the Ugandan keeper after a blatant sending-off offence, which meant Onyango remained on the pitch to save a penalty from Mane. It’ll be interesting to see, on that note, whether the Liverpool man will take one today if Senegal get one, as he has missed three out of four attempts at the Afcon.

It’s national anthem time and the players of each country to their duty with gusto.

The winners of this match will face either Madagascar or Tunisia. Isn’t it wonderful that it is not completely absurd to envisage an Africa Cup of Nations semi-final between Benin and Madagascar?

Deus ex machina news

After a group stages and round of 16 featuring good old-fashioned refereeing fiascos, this match is the first at this tournament that will have the dubious benefit of Var. Let’s see if Caf can handle it rather better than they did during this year’s African Champions League final, which ended prematurely (or not at all, given that the matter may still be decided in court) amid a kinghell ruckus involving a lot of bad-mouthing, finger-wagging and an alleged headbutt.

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Teams

Aliou Cissé has made just one change to the lineup that ground out a functional win over Uganda in the last round: Keita Balde comes in for the injured Sarr. That means M’baye Niang continues up front, presumably on the basis that the law of averages alone suggests he can’t have yet another blunt game. At last Mounié’s lack of goals have been down to (mostly) inadequate service. Might today be the day when one of the strikers ends their barren spell in decisive style?

Senegal: Gomis, Gassama, Koulibaly, Kouyaté, Sabaly; Gueye, Ndiaye, Saivet; Balde, Niang, Manté, Niang

Benin: Allagbé; Baraze, Verdon, Imorou, Adilehou; Adeoti, D’Almeida, Poté, Soukou; Sessesgon; Mounié

Referee: M Ghorbal (Algeria)

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Preamble

Hello, it’s quarter-final time in the Africa Cup of Nations and if you expected Benin to be here, you’re a genius or a fool. The Squirrels had never won match at the tournament before this year – and they still haven’t, yet here they are in the last eight. And deservedly so! There’s little to suggest they have the ability to oust a solid, star-studded but not yet spectacular Senegal team, other than the fact that they’ve proven cussedly hard to beat so far, they work their socks off and they do have a sprinkling of quality. Also, Senegal are under fierce pressure not only to win today but to go on and win this tournament for the first time, especially after Egypt and Morocco (beaten by Benin) fell surprisingly by the wayside. What is more, thanks to the return of Benin’s top striker from suspension, we can bill this clash as Steve Mounié v Sadio Mané. What’s not to look forward to? It’s on!

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