Senegal claim semi-final spot with laboured Benin win
CAIRO (Reuters) – Senegal’s Idrissa Gana Gueye scored 20 minutes from time to accept them through as anticipated to the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals but their 1-0 victory over minnows Benin, who ended with 10 guys, was a largely laboured affair.
Soccer Football – Africa Cup of Nations 2019 – Quarter Final – Senegal v Benin – 30 June Stadium, Cairo, Egypt – July 10, 2019 Benin’s Emmanuelle Imorou in action together with Senegal’s Badou N’Diaye REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Gana Gueye’s target was one of those few highlights at Cairo’s 30 June Arena with the midfielder setting up the movement and then finishing substantially to the relief into Africa’s top-ranked team as they fought to break down their established opponents.
Gana Gueye, who had ownership just outside the centre circle, passed the ball straight forward to Sadio Mane and then sprinted upfield to practically steal the ball away his team partner and tuck away a neat finish.
Senegal must wait until Thursday to learn if they meet both Madagascar or Tunisia in Sunday’s semi-final.
Gana Gueye could have had another target several eight minutes from time using an identical towering run through the midfield but was pulled back on the border of this Benin playground by defender Olivier Verdon, who was sent off.
Senegal created the better chances in the contest but those anticipating a prominent revealing against a group 66 places below them in the FIFA world rankings were left disappointed.
A composite of spirited protecting against Benin and unexpectedly tepid banning from Senegal maintained the game goalless before the 70th minute breakthrough.
Mane was the ball at the net twice but had been offside on the two occasions, verified by the Video Assistant Referee being used at the championship for the first time from the quarter-final period.
He had an effort cleared off the line three minutes after Gana Gueye’s target.
You will find a few goalmouth scrambles that supplied Benin with nervy minutes but Senegal were not able to get the net, and timely tackles from Verdon and defensive partner Moise Adilehou maintained the Senegal assault at bay and the underdogs in the contest.
Benin had a couple of chances, both falling to 34-year-old striker Mickael Pote, that had been narrowly wide with a cheeky backheel at the 26th and should have scored directly after halftime but reach a tame effort directly at keeper Alfred Gomis.
But there was no repeat for the tiny west African state of the heroics in the preceding round if they eliminated Morocco at a penalty shootout.
Senegal will feature in the semi-finals for a fourth time but on the first occasion since 2006. Their best Cup of Nations accomplishment was finishing runners-up at 2002.