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Hosts Cote d'Ivoire purge holders Senegal to reach last eight

Hosts Cote d’Ivoire purge holders Senegal to reach last eight

Cote d’Ivoire defeated reigning defending champions Senegal in a dramatic match, securing their place in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals.

Senegal took the lead just four minutes into the game with a goal from Habib Diallo after a superb cross from Sadio Mane.

However, the hosts gradually grew into the game and had the better of the first half, with Ibrahim Sangare posing a constant threat on the wing.

Despite several near misses, Senegal’s defence, led by Kalidou Koulibaly and Abdou Diallo, repelled everything thrown at them.

In the second half, Cote d’Ivoire continued pressing, and the game turned on a pivotal 86th-minute moment when Nicolas Pepe was brought down in the box, and Franck Kessie scored the equalizer from the spot.

The scores remained level in extra time, and in the shootout, both sides netted their first four penalties. However, when Kalifa Coulibaly’s effort came off the upright, Kessie stepped up to smash home the winning kick, capping a remarkable turnaround for the hosts.

Led by captain Serge Aurier, the spirited hosts fought until the end and rode their luck at times against profligate opponents. After a disastrous group stage, Cote d’Ivoire showed tremendous resilience and spirit to dethrone Senegal, who will have to relinquish their title.

The defending champions are out, and the unfancied hosts march on in dramatic style. This result has opened up the tournament and makes the quarter-finals even more exciting.

Connect with us @football_sierra on Facebook/ Instagram, Football Sierra Leone, and the Writer Alie Bittar on Twitter @bittar32 African News.

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