Senegal vs Ivory Coast, Franck Kessie Goals at AFCON 2023.
Senegal vs Ivory Coast, Franck Kessie Goals at AFCON 2023.

Host nation Ivory Coast reached the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals by beating defending champions Senegal on penalties.

There was no separating the two sides in 90 minutes as Habibou Diallo’s opener was cancelled out by a late Franck Kessie penalty and after extra-time, the game was settled by spot kicks, Kessie netting the decisive blow. Ivory Coast will face Mali or Burkina Faso next.

Franck Kessie was the Ivory Coast’s hero from the bench as his composure from the penalty spot saw the Africa Cup of Nations hosts beat reigning champions Senegal 5-4 in a shoot-out following a 1-1 draw in Monday’s last-16 tie.

So, Kessie stepped up to side-foot home the winning spot-kick after Moussa Niakhate’s miss had given the Elephants an advantage at Stade Charles Konan Banny.

Having been left on the bench by interim coach Emerse Fae, who replaced the sacked Jean-Louis Gasset, Kessie forced extra time with a coolly taken penalty in the 86th minute, cancelling out Habib Diallo’s early opener.

Sadio Mane squandered a golden chance to double Senegal’s lead just prior to the Ivory Coast’s equaliser, which came after referee Pierre Ghislain Atcho overturned his decision not to penalise Edouard Mendy for a foul on Nicolas Pepe.

And though Mane hammered home Senegal’s final penalty in the shoot-out, Kessie held his nerve to complete a remarkable redemption arc for the Ivory Coast, who only snuck through the group stage thanks to results elsewhere going their way.

The chaos that has engulfed the Ivory Coast camp since their 4-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea looked set to have derailed their hopes of causing an upset this time around when, after just three minutes and 15 seconds, Diallo drilled Senegal ahead.

The hosts managed to steady the ship, but it was when Fae turned to his bench midway through the second half, introducing Pepe and Kessie, that momentum swung in the Ivory Coast’s favour.

Kessie’s first involvement was to force Edouard Mendy into a fine double save. The Ivory Coast had to ride their luck at the other end, though, with Mane blazing wide with half of the goal gaping.

But they made that good fortune count. Sebastian Haller’s fantastic pass played in Pepe, who drew a rash tackle from Mendy and, following the VAR check, Kessie calmly dispatched his spot-kick.

Yahia Fofana came up big to deny Mane during extra time, paving the way for the shoot-out, in which Senegal blinked first – Niakhate’s effort clipping the left-hand post.

With the weight of a nation on his shoulders for the second time, Kessie again made no mistake, teeing up a quarter-final against either Mali or Burkina Faso.

Talking Point – Fae restores hope, not just pride
Eyebrows were raised when Fae chose not to start Kessie or Pepe, but he chose the perfect time to bring the duo on.

Kessie was at his very best, delivering a performance of the calibre he did regularly for a Milan team he helped to a Serie A title in 2021-22, while Pepe caused havoc for Senegal’s defence.

From what looked like a salvage job to try and restore a bit of pride, Fae now could instil himself as a hero by taking the Elephants all the way.

Player of the Match – Franck Kessie (Ivory Coast)
A special mention for Mendy, who made some fantastic stops for Senegal, but it was Kessie who changed the game. He should be a guaranteed starter for his country, and his omission from the start will no doubt have hurt him, but the former Barcelona midfielder has surely cemented his place in Fae’s XI for the next round. He was fantastic, capping off his superb cameo with two world class penalties.

Player Ratings
Senegal: E.Mendy 8, Koulibaly 7, A.Diallo 7, Niakhate 6, Diatta 8, Camara 6, P.Sarr 6, Jakobs 6, I.Sarr 6, H.Diallo 7, Mane 6. Subs: Gueye 6, Ndiaye 5, Jackson 5, Dieng 6.

Ivory Coast: Y.Fofana 7, Aurier 6, Kossounou 6, Ndicka 7, Konan 6, Sangare 5, Seri 6, S.Fofana 8, Diakite 6, Krasso 6, Gradel 6. Subs: Adingra 6, Haller 7, Kessie 9*, Kouame 6, Pepe 8, Singa 6.

Match Highlights
4’ – GOAL! Senegal 1-0 Ivory Coast (Diallo): What a start for Senegal! The hosts are ahead thanks to Habib Diallo’s brilliant, thumping strike. Mane found space down the left and hooked in a fantastic cross, which Diallo controlled before lashing in a wonderful finish that gave Ivory Coast goalkeeper Fofana no chance. It’s 1-0 to Senegal!

73’ – DOUBLE SAVE! Senegal 1-0 Ivory Coast: Fantastic goalkeeping from Mendy! He’s not had much to do, but he’s just kept Senegal ahead there. A deep free-kick caused Senegal’s defence all sorts of problems. It was headed back into the area, where Kessie, with his first touch, directed a header towards goal. Mendy kept it out and then was up in a flash to deny Kessie hammering home on the rebound. Wonderful goalkeeping!

75’ – HUGE CHANCE FOR MANE! Senegal 1-0 Ivory Coast: That should have been 2-0, but Mane has passed up a gilt-edged chance to put the game to bed! After exchanging passes with Sarr, Mane aimed to arrow a strike into the top-left corner. Half of the goal was gaping, yet he could only slice wide. Will Senegal live to regret that miss?

83’ – PENALTY GIVEN! Senegal 1-0 Ivory Coast: The Ivory Coast players are seething with the referee, after a brilliant ball from Haller sees Pepe get through one-v-one. Mendy had rushed out, but Pepe’s delightful first touch takes it over the onrushing goalkeeper, and the winger goes down in the area. The referee waves away the appeals, but the VAR has instructed the official to go to the screen. And… Decision overturned! Ivory Coast have a lifeline!

86’ – GOAL! Senegal 1-1 Ivory Coast (Kessie): What a fantastic penalty! With the weight of a nation on his shoulders, Kessie keeps his cool with a calm, composed finish beyond Mendy. The stadium is rocking. Can Ivory Coast complete the comeback?

105’ – GREAT SAVE! Senegal 1-1 Ivory Coast: Right on the cusp of half-time in extra time, Fofana has made a fantastic stop to come out and smother the danger as Mane latched onto Diatta’s wonderful pass. Another huge chance goes begging for the Senegal star!

PEN – OFF THE POST! Senegal 2-2 Ivory Coast: Oh no! Senegal’s Niakhate misses, side-footing his attempt off the left-hand upright. His run-up was casual, but his finish was poor, and Ivory Coast now have a huge chance to make Senegal pay.

Finally, PEN – GOOOOOALLLLLL!!! KESSIE WINS IT! Senegal 4-5 Ivory Coast: Oh my word! What a penalty, what a way to seal victory! Kessie sidefoots a quite sublime strike into the roof of the net, and Ivory Coast head through to the quarter-finals, sending the AFCON holders crashing out.

Credit: EuroSport


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