YAMOUSSOUKRO, Ivory Coast (AP) — Sadio Mané scored late to seal a 3-1 win for defending champion Senegal over Cameroon and secure progress to the Africa Cup of Nations knockout stage on Friday.
Mané was mobbed by teammates after sweeping in the third goal in the fifth minute of injury time, capping an impressive performance after Ismaïla Sarr scored one goal and set up another for the Lions of Teranga.
Senegal moved to the top of Group C with successive wins and were assured of finishing among the top two.
“We’ve played two games. We have seven. It’s important to stay focused,” Senegal coach Aliou Cissé said.
Five-time champion Cameroon’s hopes of progress hinge on beating Gambia and hoping for a favour from Senegal against Guinea in their final group games on Tuesday.
Guinea had one point before their second match against Gambia later Friday.
Manchester United goalkeeper André Onana started for Cameroon after missing the team’s first game against Guinea because of his late arrival. His first significant contribution was to send an attempted pass out of play.
The game started with, it seemed, most fans still trying to make their way into Charles Konan Banny Stadium.
Senegal’s strong start was rewarded in the 16th minute when Sarr turned to fire inside the right post after Onana failed to clear a corner.
Long lines of fans were still waiting to enter the stadium when the game paused after 30 minutes for a cooling break.
When the game resumed, Senegal remained dominant. Kalidou Koulibaly and his defense snuffed out any opportunities for Cameroon.
Cameroon defender Enzo Tchato need to step in to block a good chance for Mané before the break, and Tolo Nouhou produced a fine tackle after it to stop Abdou Diallo, who was later booked, ruling him out of Senegal’s final group game.
Senegal did not enjoy the same superiority in the second half, so when Habib Diallo slid in to meet Sarr’s low cross in the 71st, it provided relief for the many Senegalese fans who had by now made their way into the stadium.
Jean-Charles Castelletto’s scored Cameroon’s consolation in the 83rd. Mané made sure of the win.
BLUE SHARKS FINISH TOP
Cape Verde became the first country to reach the knockout stage with a comfortable 3-0 win over Mozambique earlier.
Goals from Bebé, Ryan Mendes, and Kevin Pina gave the Blue Sharks their second win from two games to finish on top of Group B above heavyweights Egypt and Ghana with a game to spare.
Cape Verde have six points, followed by Egypt on two, with Ghana and Mozambique both on one point before the final group games on Monday. The top two in each group are assured of progress, while the four best third-place finishers in the six groups also go through.
Cape Verde are playing in the Africa Cup for just the fourth time. The small Atlantic island nation reached the quarterfinals in 2013.
“What we can deliver together is up there with the best of them,” defender Roberto “Pico” Lopes told The Associated Press before the 2-1 win over Ghana.