AFCON 2023: Ivory Coast reach semi-finals in dramatic fashion

Oumar Diakit scored in stoppage time of extra time to send 10-man Ivory Coast into the semi finals of the Africa Cup of Nations with a dramatic 2-1 win over Mali.

Simon Adingra had equalised with the host nation’s first shot on target in the 90th minute to send it to extra-time, and Diakit completed a thrilling comeback by scoring in what was the 122nd minute of the game.

It prompted wild celebrations among nearly 40,000 fans in the Stadium of the Peace in Bouak and beyond.

Diakit was booked for excessive celebrations and was sent off as it was his second yellow card. He will miss the semi-final against DR Congo on Wednesday.

Ivory Coast had been heading for a disappointing exit after Mali substitute Nene Dorgeles broke the deadlock with a brilliant strike from distance inside the top right corner in the 71st minute.

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Oumar Diakite’s slight deflection on Seko Fofana’s shot produced one of the moments of the tournament by sending the hosts to the semi-finals of the 2024 AFCON.

The home team had gone down to 10 men from the 43rd after Odilon Kossounou was sent off with his second yellow card for a tactical foul.

Mali had early penalty appeals after a potential hand ball from Kossounou, but a VAR check found an offside infringement in the build-up.

Minutes later, referee Mohamed Adel did award a penalty for Kossounou’s challenge on Lassine Sinayoko, only for Yahia Fofana to save Adama Traore’s spot kick.

It prompted more commitment from the home team, who had been outplayed, but Mali’s defence largely coped with the Elephants’ charge.

Seko Fofana fired Ivory Coast’s best chance over toward the end of the half, before Kossounou saw red for his tactical foul on Sinayoko.

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Mali player Hamari Traore was sent off after pushing the referee after his team’s last-minute loss to Ivory Coast, as players surrounded the official.

Dorgeles’ goal promoted a late push for an equalizer, but Mali goalkeeper Djigui Diarra was untroubled until Adingra prodded the ball home after Seko Fofana’s initial effort was blocked.

Fans watching on large screens in Abidjan flipped into party mode, jumping, dancing and celebrating, but the real party only started after Diakit’s late winner.

Cape Verde and South Africa play in Yamoussoukro later on Saturday for the last semi-final place against Nigeria.

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