DUALA, CAMEROON: Left-back Masadio Hydra’s opening goal gave Mali a comfortable 2-0 win over Mauritania on Thursday and their top spot in the Africa Cup of Nations Group F.
Haider scored the fastest goal of the tournament as he hit the net 92 seconds later, before Mali added another goal through a penalty spot by striker Ibrahima Con, who scored in the third game in a row.
Mali finished the group stage with seven points, ahead of second-placed Gambia on goal difference. They were relegated to the second round by Tunisia after finishing as one of the best third-ranked teams in North Africa.
Mali will face Equatorial Guinea in the second round in Limbe on Wednesday. The last time they were runners-up in a tournament played in Cameroon in 1972, they wanted to win their first Cup of Nations trophy.
Mauritania offered very little in the attack and were reluctant to come forward despite being behind by two goals.
They allowed Mali to play in first gear for most of the match and while it was definitely not a vintage performance from Mohamed Megasoba’s side, he would be happy with his performance.
When Mausa Dumbia’s cross from the right found an unmarked Masadio Hydra on the back post and he pushed the ball from behind Mauritania goalkeeper Babacar Diop, they stabilized his nerves.
The DOP made a smart save from close range to reject Cone as Mali kept up the pressure without a reward, and it took a while to get them a second time after half time.
Dombia were penalized when Mauritania substitute Soleiman was appended in the box by Karamoko.
Who converted a powerful spot-kick for his third goal of the tournament, all those penalties.