Liverpool’s Sadio Mane spares Senegal’s blushes with dramatic 97th-minute winner at AFCON

Jurgen Klopp praises 'exceptional' Salah and Mane

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Liverpool forward Sadio Mane spared Senegal’s blushes as he struck a penalty seven minutes into stoppage time at the end of his side’s African Cup of Nations opener against Zimbabwe on Monday. Senegal were locked in a stalemate until Mane fired home the only goal of the game.

Senegal were awarded the spot kick in the dying seconds after Kelvin Madzongwe was adjudged to have handled the ball after diving in to block a late attempt.

And Mane kept his cool as he thumped his effort into the left corner, sending goalkeeper Petros Mhari the wrong way.

Senegal, who are managed by former Birmingham City and Portsmouth ace Aliou Cisse, were dealt a double blow ahead of the encounter as Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy and Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly were ruled out after testing positive for Covid.

And they were made to work for the three points as their tournament got underway against a tenacious Zimbabwe side.

They nearly went ahead in the opening two minutes as Bouna Sarr’s long-range effort narrowly missed the near post.

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Mane then had the best chance of the opening period as he dribbled for 30 yards and rounded a Zimbabwe defender, before firing a tame shot straight at Mhari.

In the second half, Abdou Diallo went close for Senegal but couldn’t hit the target as he headed Sarr’s free-kick over the crossbar.

And the match looked destined to finish goalless before Mane rifled home from 12 yards.

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