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Mane clinches dramatic victory for Senegal

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Eight minutes after stoppage time, the striker scored a penalty in a 1-0 win against Rwanda
JOHANNESBURG: Liverpool star Sadio Mane converted a penalty eight minutes into injury time to give Senegal a dramatic 1-0 win over heartbroken Rwanda in Tuesday’s Africa Cup of Nations 2023 qualifier.

Rwanda had to play a home game in Senegal because they lack a stadium of international standard and were close to holding a side 116 places higher in the world rankings.

But Mane saved the Teranga Lions in the 98th minute with a hard, low penalty that escaped goalkeeper Olivier Kwizera’s outstretched hand.

Mane has played for the holders in their first two games, scoring four goals including a hat-trick on Matchday 1 against Benin.

Despite being a long way behind in the rankings, Senegal took no chances against the Rwandan Wasps, who had qualified for the Cup of Nations just once in 13 attempts.

Coach Aliou Cisse selected seven from the side that started the final victory over Egypt in Cameroon four months ago and brought on two more as substitutes.

Mozambique, who began their season with a draw against Rwanda, reduced the gap to Senegal to two points with an away win at bottom side Benin.

In Group H, Kings Kangwa netted an 88th-minute free-kick to give Zambia a vital 2-1 win over Comoros in Lusaka.

Former African champions Zambia got the win the hard way as they came from behind in a fast, foul-riddled regional showdown.

Serbia’s Ben Nabouhane used two defensive mistakes to give the visitors a 13th-minute lead at a packed National Heroes Stadium.

The constant Zambian pressure paid off in first-half injury time when a corner was partially cleared and Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Enock Mwepu netted a low shot through a crowd of players.

Comoros missed several chances to regain the lead early in the second half and the errors came back to haunt them as Kangwa clinched a deserved win.

Zambia needed maximum points after losing in Ivory Coast last Friday, the same day Comoros beat Lesotho at home.

This group is the only one of 12 in which the winners and runners-up do not qualify for the 24-nation tournament in June and July 2023.

Côte d’Ivoire automatically qualifies as hosts but competes for match practice rather than relying on friendlies.

This means that only one team from Zambia, Comoros, and Lesotho will also reach the final and the Zambians are desperate to avoid qualifying for four consecutive Cup of Nations.

Burkina Faso, fourth at the Cup of Nations in Cameroon four months ago, quickly took over Group B with the maximum points from two games, while Cape Verde has three and Eswatini and Togo have one each.

Dango Ouattara extended his two-game tally to three with a brace as the Burkinabe stormed back after beating Eswatini 3-1 in a virtually empty Johannesburg stadium.

Eswatini has had to play in neighboring South Africa because they don’t have a stadium of international standard – a problem that has also affected Cape Verde and Rwanda.

Cape Verde welcomed Togo in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh – nearly 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles) from their home island in the Atlantic – and won 2-0, with Jamiro Monteiro securing victory in added time

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