Mali launch stunning comeback
Mali came from four goals down to earn a sensational late draw with hosts Angola in the opening game of the African Cup of Nations.
Last Updated: 10/01/10 11:10pm
Mali came from four goals down to earn a sensational draw with hosts Angola in the opening game of the African Cup of Nations in Luanda on Sunday.
The hosts went ahead in the 37th minute when Saudi Arabia-based striker Flavio Amado scored with a diving header and he doubled the advantage five minutes later with another header from defender Mabina's cross.
Gilberto then made it 3-0 with a 67th minute penalty before Manucho converted another penalty seven minutes later.
But substitute Seydou Keita launched the Eagles' astonishing comeback in the 79th minute when he scrambled the ball home from a Carlos Fernandes error.
Frederic Kanoute glanced home a fine header to halve the deficit in the 87th minute before Keita got his second of the night in stoppage time and Mustapha Yatabare grabbed a last-gasp equaliser to complete the stunning comeback.
It all looked so different moments earlier after the Black Antelopes had raced ahead on day one of the competition which has been marred by an attack on the Togo team which left three people dead.
A respectful silence was held before the game in memory of those who died in Friday's attack.
Manuel Jose's men then began the match sprightly with Flavio firing the first shot on goal from 25 yards out.
The Eagles, who looked nervous throughout the opening half, slowly began to improve and their first real sniff of goal came after 20 minutes, but Modibo Maiga squandered the chance when his back-heeled pass on the edge of the penalty area failed to find any team-mate.
The Angolans were forced into an early change three minutes later when Dede had to go off with what looked like an ankle injury.
His replacement Djalma Campos had the best opening of the two sides just after the half-hour mark when Mabina's pinpoint cross from the right was met with a powerful header at the near post, which was unfortunately straight at Mahamadou Sidibe.
But the hosts did not have much longer to wait for the opening, which came in the 37th minute.
It came when the visitors needlessly brought down Manucho just outside the penalty area on the left.
Gilberto cleverly sought out Flavio with the ensuing free-kick instead of going for goal and his cross was powerfully met by the Al-Shabab striker to leave Sidibe stranded.
The Malians were rocked and it was 2-0 five minutes later - Mabina finding an unmarked Flavio with his cross from the right and the ball was again impressively headed in to hand the hosts a 2-0 half-time lead.
The Eagles began promisingly after the break and should have equalised when a cross from the right found Mahamadou Diarra unmarked at the back post, but he took his time, giving goalkeeper Fernandes time to make an acrobatic save that helped avert the danger.
Minutes later Kanoute had a first shot on goal, but he skewed his shot wildly over as Mali searched for a lifeline.
But their constant pressure came to nothing, with Angola going 3-0 up in the 67th minute after a fine counter-attack led to Mamadou Bagayoko bringing down Gilberto in the penalty area.
The Al-Ahly midfielder stood up to take the spot-kick himself - scoring with both attempts after he was asked to retake his first one due to players entering the box too early.
Seven minutes later Keita bizarrely conceded another penalty when Gilberto was for the second time hauled back in the area.
This time Manucho stepped forward to send Sidibe the wrong way.
But there was still time for Mali to attempt a comeback and they were gifted a goal 11 minutes from the end when Fernandes spilt a poor corner and Keita bundled the ball in.
Kanoute halved the deficit with a powerfully glanced header with three minutes left and when the fourth official signalled four additional minutes it seemed to deflate the hosts.
They took their foot of the pedal and Keita's angled finish was followed by Yatabare's 94th minute goal - after Fernandes could only parry into his path - to hand Stephen Keshi's side a share of the spoils.