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Sinayoko scores as Mali set up AFCON clash with Ivory Coast

Lassine Sinayoko celebrates scoring for Mali against Burkina Faso. (Fadel Senna)
Lassine Sinayoko celebrates scoring for Mali against Burkina Faso. (Fadel Senna)

Lassine Sinayoko scored his third goal at the Africa Cup of Nations as Mali reached the quarter-finals for the first time since 2013 by defeating Burkina Faso 2-1 on Monday.

An early Edmond Tapsoba own goal got Mali off to a great start in the 1ast 16 tie and Auxerre's Sinayoko doubled the lead just after half-time.

Bertrand Traore reduced arrears from a penalty for Burkina Faso, who had the ball in the net again only for Issoufou Dayo to be ruled offside.

Mali, who have had two first round and two last-16 exits since finishing third 11 years ago, face hosts Ivory Coast in Bouake on Saturday with a semi-final place on the line.

Shock 2022 World Cup semi-finalists Morocco meet South Africa in San-Pedro later in the final last 16 match.

"It was a really tough match against a good side. We had to work extra hard, but I am glad we eventually got the result," said Sinayoko.

"We can celebrate this victory while keeping at the back of our minds that there is still a lot of work ahead."

Premier League duo Yves Bissouma of Tottenham Hotspur and Dango Ouattara of Bournemouth both started on the bench for Mali and Burkina Faso respectively.

Mali made six changes from the side that fought a 0-0 draw with Namibia to top Group E, including a new four-man midfield.

Group D runners-up Burkina Faso changed four of the side beaten 2-0 by Angola with out-of-favour Aston Villa forward Traore the captain.

- Quick goal -

This was only the second Cup of Nations meeting between the west African neighbours with Mali winning a group match 3-1 in Tunisia 20 years ago.

The match in the northern Ivorian city kicked off in 36 degrees Celsius (97 Fahrenheit) heat and Mali needed only 133 seconds to score the second fastest goal in the tournament.

A powerful Amadou Haidara header off a cross rebounded off the post, struck the left foot of Tapsoba and rebounded into the net for an own goal.

Watched by Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Patrice Motsepe from South Africa, the football rarely excited the almost-capacity 19,154 crowd until the half-hour mark.

Then, Sinayoko stung the fingers of goalkeeper Herve Koffi with a hard close-range shot that was parried.

Only Mali were threatening to score and Kamory Doumbia fired narrowly wide with a low shot from just outside the area.

They went two goals ahead two minutes into the second half as Sinayoko broke clear of Tapsoba and beat Koffi with an angled shot.

But the lead was halved on 57 minutes when Boubakar Kouyate handled a cross and Traore converted his third penalty of the tournament as Mali goalkeeper Djigui Diarra dived the wrong way.

France-born Burkina Faso coach Hubert Velud brought on Dango Ouattara for Traore with 13 minutes of regular time remaining as the Stallions sought an equaliser.

Long-serving defender Dayo thought he had levelled in the final minute of regular time by heading a free-kick past Diarra, but was ruled offside.

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