In a jaw-dropping turn of events at the Peace Stadium in Bouake, host nation Ivory Coast achieved the unimaginable, advancing to the Africa Cup of Nations semifinals with only nine players after a riveting 2-1 extra-time victory against Mali.
The excitement unfolded with Nene Dorgeles’s unforgettable goal giving Mali the lead following Odilon Kossounou’s first-half red card. However, the game took an unexpected twist with Simon Adingra’s 90th-minute equaliser, forcing the match into extra time.
In the chaotic finale of the 120-minute spectacle, Oumar Diakite secured the win for Ivory Coast in stoppage time, only to be sent off alongside Mali’s Hamari Traore.
Mali squandered an early opportunity as Adama Traore’s penalty was saved, setting the stage for a rollercoaster ride. Kossounou’s dismissal added to the tension, but the Elephants displayed resilience, creating a thrilling narrative.
The match’s narrative unfolded with twists and turns, including a missed penalty, Kossounou’s dismissal, and Mali’s relentless pursuit of a breakthrough. Emerse Fae’s side faced adversity, but the turning point came with Dorgeles’s sublime strike.
As the game headed into extra time, the raucous crowd rallied behind Ivory Coast. A header from Borussia Dortmund’s Sebastien Haller struck the bar, heightening the suspense. The tie seemed destined for penalties until a last-minute free-kick led to Diakite’s crucial flick, securing an incredible victory.
The wild celebrations, marked by Diakite’s second yellow card for removing his shirt, added to the intensity. Ivory Coast’s triumph sets the stage for a semifinal clash against DR Congo, promising another thrilling chapter in the AFCON journey on Thursday.