Hosts Ivory Coast kept up their incredible escape act at the Africa Cup of Nations as they came from behind to beat Mali 2-1 in Saturday’s quarter-final, scoring a last-gasp goal in extra time to book a semi-final with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Oumar Diakite got a touch to Seko Fofana’s strike to win the game for the Ivorians, who played with 10 men for most of the match after Odilon Kossounou was sent off shortly before halftime.
Mali had taken a 71st-minute lead through Nene Dorgeles but the home team, roared on by the crowd at the Stade de la Paix, fought back and equalised through Simon Adingra in the 90th minute to force extra time.
Diakite then scored the winner before being sent off for a second booking by taking his shirt off in celebration. Mali’s Hamari Traore was also shown a red card at the final whistle.
The Ivorians had limped into the knockout stage as one of the four best third placed finishers, despite a 4-0 loss to tiny Equatorial Guinea, but then resurrected their hopes by edging holders Senegal on post-match penalties in the last 16.
MATCH FULL REPORT
Africa Cup of Nations hosts Ivory Coast pulled off another stunning comeback to beat Mali in the quarter-finals.
Much as they did against AFCON holders Senegal in the last 16, Les Elephants left it late in both regulation and extra-time during a dramatic encounter.
Odilon Kossounou was sent off in the first-half for two bookable offences, the first coming after conceding a penalty which Adama Traoré duly missed.
The defender was given his marching orders just before the break, although Mali failed to make their numerical advantage count until Ivorian-born midfielder Nene Dorgeles curled in what looked to be the winner just after the 70th minute mark.
As has often been the case throughout this AFCON, however, there were more twists and turns.
Brighton’s Simon Adingra struck in the last minute of normal time with an opportunistic finish after a goalmouth scramble before Oumar Niakite diverted Seko Fofana’s shot in for the winner just as penalties loomed.
Niakite was then sent off for removing his shirt in celebration having already picked up a yellow card as tempers flared, with several Mali players surrounding referee Mohamed Adel. Hamari Traore was sent off after the full-time whistle for taking his protests too far.
The hosts now head into their semi-final meeting with DR Congo next week with momentum on their side.