Africa Cup of Nations 2019: Mali 0-1 Ivory Coast - 3 reasons why Ivory Coast won
- Despite a largely subdued performance, the Ivorians march on, courtesy of a Wilfried Zaha winner.
The Elephants were poked and prodded all the way to the finish line, with the youthful Malian side outplaying their more illustrious opponents for much of the game. The Eagles had most of the possession, with a total of 60 percent of ball retention going to Mali.
On the shots count, Mali also trumped the Elephants, as they had a total of 18 shots, in comparison to Ivory Coast's meager count of 7.
However, Ivory Coast came out tops when it came to the most important stat. Wilfried Zaha's 76th-minute goal was the crucial difference between both sides, as he latched onto a Sylvian Gbohouo free-kick before confidently dispatching the ball beyond the keeper's reach.
In this article, we try to make sense of Ivory Coast's victory over Mali's Les Aigles.
#3 A clinical finish
Let's get the most obvious bit out of the way first.
The Elephants of Ivory Coast may be in the quarterfinals, but they certainly have not been very convincing so far. They were totally outplayed by a less fancied Les Aigles side for much of the game, as they had to withstand wave after wave of Malian barrage.
In the first 45 minutes, the Elephant's didn't trouble Mali's Djigui Diarra in goal. The likes of Wilfried Zaha and Nicolas Pepe were largely subdued throughout the encounter, and with the few chances that came their way, they had to be clinical.
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha did just that in the 76th minute. The Elephants of Ivory Coast won a free kick in their own half, and Sylvian Gbohouo was on hand to take the set-piece.
A free-kick from deep plus a fortunate bounce later, and Wilfried Zaha found himself in no man's land with just the Malian goalkeeper to beat, and all he had to do was coolly poke the ball past the keeper.
Zaha's goal was the difference in a game dominated by the young Malian side.