Senegal beat Benin 1-0 on Wednesday, July 10th to qualify for the semi-finals of the African Cup of Nations. A second-half strike from Idrissa Gueye was enough for the victory that ended Benin’s fairy-tale journey to the quarter-finals.
Benin caused a massive shock in the last-16 after beating Morocco on penalties. They came into the quarter-finals as heavy underdogs hoping to spring another major upset.
They defended well in the first-half as Senegal failed to land a single shot on target in the first 45 minutes, despite having most of the possession. Senegal came out strong as Sadio Mane had a goal ruled out for offside in the 54th minute. M’Baye Niang went close soon after as the Senegalese started to get a foothold in the game.
They took the lead in the 69th minute. Mane slipped a pass through to Gueye, who charged into the box and slotted the ball into the bottom corner to put his side ahead. Mane had another goal ruled out for offside minutes later before Oliver Verdon was sent off for a challenge to Gueye late in the game.
Senegal held on for the victory, and they will play either Nigeria or South Africa in the semi-finals on Sunday, July 14th.
AFP reported that Senegal’s head coach Aliou Cisse said he was expecting a tough game despite his side being heavy favourites. “We were expecting a complicated match, and my players did not give up because they have a good mentality, were patient and respected instructions.”
He added, “At this stage of the tournament, anyone can beat anyone. We came here with the ambition of playing seven matches, and we will play them. We want to play in the final.”
Benin’s coach, Michel Dussuyer, was happy with the team’s display despite their defeat. “I want to congratulate my players for the way they handle difficult challenges”, he said.
“The boys must be proud. They made the people of Benin proud. With this squad, we have advanced. Of course, there is disappointment, but the players can hold their heads high."