Equatorial Guinea defeated Mali for the first time in their history, winning 6-5 on penalties to progress to the quarterfinals of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
AFCON 2021: Equatorial Guinea upset Mali 6-5 on penalties to book quarterfinal spot
Mali crash out of AFCON with Equatorial Guinea maintaining impressive AFCON record
Both sides played out a goalless draw in regulation time as well as extra time despite a host of chances being created at the Limbe Stadium.
The Eagles of Mali have now failed to reach the last 8 for the fourth consecutive AFCON edition since finishing third in 2013.
Referee Gassama shines in cagey first half
The match started as a cagey affair with both sides sizing each other up in the first 10 minutes.
Whilst there was little goalmouth action, there was lots of stomping in the middle of the park with the referee responsible for keeping the players' impassioned tackles in check.
As the first 15 minutes went by, the Eagles of Mali started to penetrate the tightly-packed defence of the Nzalang Nacional.
After numerous sparring sessions, Amadou Haidara went close to breaking the deadlock in the 30th minute but he could not connect properly with a floated free-kick from Hamari Traore.
The referee Bakary Papa Gassama consulted the VAR before waving off a penalty appeal by the West Africans in the 40th minute after Moussa Doumbia went down easily under a challenge from Josete Miranda.
For a tournament that has had some controversial refereeing decisions, Gassama was beyond reproach for most of the first half, getting even the marginal calls right.
Penalty Shootout secure Equatorial Guinea Vs Senegal quarterfinal
The second half took a similar shape as the first, with both teams getting their day in the sun with ball possession and attacking opportunities.
In the 57th minute, Mohamed Camara had an open net to aim at but the RB Salzburg midfielder could only blaze high from a Yves Bissouma tee-up.
Mali coach Mohamed Magassouba brought on Moussa Djenepo in the 70th minute to add more attacking firepower to the Malians.
The Southampton forward had an immediate impact, with his 73rd-minute snapshot taking a deflection before running out of play.
Both sides continued to push for a goal as the clock trickled down to full time.
With neither side finding a breakthrough in normal time and extra time, the match proceeded to extra time for the second match running today.
It took eight rounds of the penalty shootout for the Nzalang Nacional to confirm their spot in the last 8 of the competition.
Jesus Owono was the hero for Equatorial Guinea, saving from Falaye Sacko to continue the Central Africans impressive record at the AFCON finals.
Equatorial Guinea have made to their quarterfinals of both AFCON finals (2012 and 2015) they have participated in. They will now face Senegal for the semifinal ticket in their next match.