World: Africa Cup of Nations
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Burkina Faso
I. Touré (82)
A. Diallo (70), I. Gueye (76), S. Mané (87)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Sarr and Senegal through to AFCON Final

FC Bayern München fullback Bouna Sarr and the Senegalese Lions of Teranga punched through to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Final on Wednesday afternoon with a 3-1 victory over Burkina Faso. 

For Leverkusen's Edmond Tapsoba of Burkina Faso, the tournament continues this weekend; albeit only in the third-place-playoff.
Both Bayer 04 Leverkusen's Edmond Tapsoba and FC Bayern München's Bouna Sarr were in the starting XI for their respective countries on Wednesday evening as Senegal and Burkina Faso hoped to keep their continental championship dream alive. After missing out on the first group stage match because of COVID, Tapsoba made his fifth consecutive start at the back for the Burkinabé Stallions.

Sarr may not feature much for Bayern, but he has played every minute of the tournament thus far for Senegal. The FCB fullback started his sixth consecutive match of the tournament, though only the fourth in his natural right-back role. During the first two group stage matches, Sarr had to fill in for Terangan head-coach Allow Cisse in attack.

After a very physical start to proceedings at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaoundé, Senegal began to get some lively attacks going. Liverpool star Said Mané--who up to this point had played such a poor tournament for country that many advocated for his benching--managed to direct some creative rushes for his team.

Shortly after the quarter-of-an-hour mark, the Burkinabé counter began to look more dangerous. Both sides proved capable of providing pinpricks. The Senegalese went with more measured builds whilst the Burkinabé stormed back when after absorbing the pressure. Keepers Herve Koffi and Edouard Mendy did see some action, but nothing really much that tested them.

Before the first half was out, match official Bamlak Tessema Weyesa had actually awarded two penalties. In both cases, however, the Ethiopian referee reversed his decision after the VAR team compelled him to take a second look. In the latter instances, Tapsoba was whistled for a handball in the box at 45+8. After reviewing the play, Weyesa deemed the contact unintentional and even apologized directly to the Leverkusen center-halve.

Five minutes after the restart, it was Sarr's turn to run up against the match official. A yellow card for the Bayern defender's slide tackle against Adama Guira seemed very harsh indeed. Weyesa listened to Sarr's grievances calmly, but did not take the card back. The flow of both teams largely ground to a halt until both trainers began introducing substitutes shortly after the hour mark.

Some artistry and a little bit of luck enabled Senegal to take the lead in the 70th. A corner kick ultimately saw the ball land with Kalidou Koulibaly of S.S.C. Neapel. The Italian Serie A player hit a bicycle kick didn't hit the target, yet did find its way to former Borussia Dortmund man Abdou Diallo. It proved an easy finish from close range.

The Teranga Lions were able to double their advantage six minutes later. Liverpool's Sané effectively atoned for his entire subpar tournament by wrestling a ball away from Issoufou Dayo deep in his own half. Sané then set up a streaking Bamba Dieng for another easy finish. Tapsoba's defensive partner's horrible possessional error regrettably put a stain on what had otherwise been a great game for the Burkinabé center back.

The Stallions were able to pull one back in the 81st when Blati Touré finished off a gorgeous pull-back with his knee. Hopes for a comeback were nevertheless short-lived when the forward committed Burkinabé were caught out five minutes later. This time it was Sané's turn to get a goal of his own. The Liverpool attacker finished calmly despite light pressure from Dayo and keeper Farid Ouedraogo.

Aliou Cissé's Teranga Lions--the highest FIFA ranked African team--are back in the AFCON final. Senegal made it all the way to the final in the last AFCON back in 2019, ultimately faltering against champions Algeria. For Tapsoba and the Burkinabé, it's off to the third-place playoff on Saturday.

Egypt and hosts Cameroon contest the second semi-final tomorrow.

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