A late penalty from talisman Sadio Mane helped Senegal beat Zimbabwe 1-0 in their opening TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations, Cameroon match at the Kouekong Stadium in Baffoussam.
The Teranga Lions started the better side in Baffoussam with Bouna Sarr and Sadio Mane pulling the strings for Aliou Cisse’s side.
The duo combined for the first real opening of the match inside the first minute. Mane played Sarr through but his effort failed to hit the target.
Keita Balde scuffed his effort wide from a clever Sadio Mane neat Mane pass, the Liverpool striker turned away from two defenders to set Balde free.
The Teranga Lions dominated possession in the early exchanges through Gana Gueye whose ability to open the play found Fode Ballo on the left channel but his effort was wayward.
The Warriors captain Knowledge Musona tried his luck from distance but his ambitious shot failed to trouble Senegal Seny Dieng. Zimbabwe survived a scare midway through the first half when Sarr latched on to Sadio Mane’s through ball before seeing his shot agonizingly wide off the post.
Mane missed a good chance to break the deadlock when played through with only the keeper to beat the former Generation Foot winger fired straight at the brilliant Petros Mhari.
A swift Senegal counter attack frees Mane who played in Gana Gueye who failed to hit the target with the goal at his mercy.
Defenders Pape Cisse and Abdou Diallo both headed wide from a set plays as Senegal look for the breakthrough against the resilient Warriors of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe were unlucky not to open the score 15 minutes for time in the highly charged match Baffoussam when Teenage Lingani weak effort was saved by Seny Dieng.
Aliou Cisse’s team won a late penalty when substitute Pape Gueye’s effort came off the arm of defender Kelvin Wilbert in stoppage time and star man Sadio Mane fired in the winner from the spot.
The victory sends Senegal to the summit of the Group B ahead of Guinea’s encounter with Malawi later.