BY STEVE AYOO
Idrissa Gueye’s second half strike helped Senegal reach the Africa Cup of Nations semifinals as they beat Benin 1-0 in Cairo.
The Everton midfielder started the move then got on the end of Sadio Mane’s pass after 69 minutes to slot past Benin keeper Saturnin Allagbe and steer the Teranga Lions to their first semifinal since 2006 when, coincidentally, Egypt were the hosts.
Benin were reduced to 10 men with seven minutes to play following Olivier Verdon’s straight red card for denying Gueye a goalscoring opportunity.
The game held historical importance as it was the first time that Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was used in the competition.
The technology was utilized by referee Mustapha Ghorbal to rule out Mane’s 74th minute goal.
Mane also had a goal ruled offside early in the second half as the Lions cranked up the pressure on the Squirrels after a barren first half.
Benin’s best chance of the match came before Gueye’s goal as Senegal keeper Alfred Gomis was lucky to see the ball spin just wide after he made a meal of a back pass which he mis-controlled.
Mickael Pote sent a low drive just wide and also had an effort saved by Gomis while Steve Mounie headed over a promising chance in what was the highlight moments for Benin in front of the Senegalese goal.
Aliou Cisse’s side were eliminated at the quarterfinal stage in 2017 by eventual champions Cameroon.
They will face either Tunisia or Madagascar in the semifinal on July 14 at the Cairo International Stadium.
Benin meanwhile will travel back home with their heads held high having not only gone past the group stages for the first time in their history, but gone a step further as they shocked Morocco in the round of 16.
They however still remain without a win in normal time at Afcon, the Morocco victory coming in post-match penalties.