Senegal turned played a beautiful football match on Thursday night with a 2-0 victory over Zimbabwe to become the first qualifiers for the 2017 quarterfinals at ongoing Afcon 2017.
AFCON 2017: Senegal Through To The Quarter Finals As Tunisia Beat Algeria [REPORT]
In a thrilling start to their Group B clash at the Stade de Franceville, the Teranga Lions ensured the match was all but over after 13 minutes, with goals from Sadio Mane and Henri Saivet.
Africa’s top-ranked side, who have suffered a string of disappointing results in the competition over the past years, are now guaranteed top spot from the much touted ‘Group of Death’ irrespective of the outcome of their final clash against Algeria next Monday.
Senegal came off the blocks firing and on nine minutes, Mane tapped in a Keita Balde cross after Saivet had carved open the Zimbabwe defence with a through ball.
Saivet made it 2-0 four minutes later by curling a superb free-kick over the defensive wall and past goalkeeper Tatenda Mkuruva.
With Zimbabwe thoroughly outclassed, Senegal then took their foot off the gas and played keep-ball at times, with Balde, Biram Diouf and substitute Moussa Sow missing a host of chances to increase the score.
Zimbabwe star attacker Khama Billiat carved a half-chance before half-time, but could only shoot weakly at Abdoulaye Diallo.
Earlier, Tunisia bounced back from their opening defeat to Senegal to beat fellow North-African, Algeria 2-1 in a lively encounter in Franceville.
The result makes Henri Kasperczak’s side favourites to finish runners-up and also secure a last-eight place from the group, leaving pre-tournament favourites Algeria in serious trouble.
It was the second meeting between both sides in Afcon, and Youssef Msakni, who scored the winner in South Africa four years ago, sparked the victory by forcing an own-goal off Algerian captain Aissa Mandi shortly after the restart.
Naim Sliti doubled their lead from the spot after Wahbi Khazri was fouled in the box, and in stoppage time, Algeria substitute Sofiane Hanni netted what proved to be a consolation goal.