Gabon 1-1 Mali
Mali won on penalties (5-4)
MALI ended Gabon’s dream of their first ever semifinal place in an Africa Cup of Nations by beating them 5-4 on penalties following a 1-1 draw, as Seydou Kieta netted the winner with Pierre Aubameyang missing his spot-kick.
The two teams kicked off to a musical audience as neither side made any threatening attack, but it was Mali who maintained a good bought of possession.
The Malians had a set piece awarded to them 15 minutes in, but Bakaye Traore saw his effort go high of goal, while Daniel Cousin was unable to reach the high cross by Eric Mouloungui.
Just before the half hour, Gabon nearly went ahead when Aubameyang jumped the offside trap and sliced the ball around the onrushing ‘keeper, but it hit the upright.
The co-hosts came close again when Cousin made a fantastic run up the flank to cross the ball to an emerging Aubamenyang ,but it was too long as the Milan youth product only sliced it out for a goal-kick.
Ten minutes into the second half, Gabon broke the deadlock through Mouloungui, as he hit home an Aubameyang pull back.
Trailing by a goal, Mali opted for a tactical change upfront as Mustapha Yatabare came on for Abdou Traore but Gabon continued dominating play until the 84th minute when Chieke Diabate’s volley found the back of the net.
With the scores level at one apiece, the match headed into 30 minutes extra time.
Following the second restart, Gabon swung in a corner but play was stopped for an alleged foul on a Malian. However, after a series of corners and free-kicks for either side, the first half of extra time was brought to a close.
As the second half commenced the home fans broke out in full voice as they hoped to provide and extra bit of life for their side, while Diakite sent a dangerous free kick into the box but Ovono did well to jump up and pluck it out of the air.
As the final whistle approached, both teams looked content to settle for a draw as they struggled with their heavy and tired legs.
As most penalty shootouts go, the scores can never be predicted. Mali triumphed 5-4 as Aubameyang missed for Gabon while Kieta netted the winning penalty.
Mali oust Gabon to reach semis