Africa Cup of Nations 2019: Senegal 1-0 Tunisia - 3 reasons why Senegal won

The Teranga Lions celebrate!
The Teranga Lions celebrate!

As far as semifinals go, this was a total page-turner!

It certainly had all the thrilling plot points one would expect from a clash of its magnitude - penalty kicks awarded at both ends of the pitch, penalties missed at both ends of the pitch, a contentious VAR decision, and an unfortunate own goal decider. This game had it all!

The two sides sit atop the CAF rankings, and the matchup absolutely delivered on expectations, however, it is Aliou Cisse and his men who march on to face Algeria in the AFCON 2019 final.

The Teranga Lions of Senegal commanded the first 45 minutes, with wave after wave of attack soaked up and repelled by the dogged Tunisian defence (and the crossbar).

However, the Carthage Eagles improved in the second half and were rewarded for their efforts when Kalidou Koulibaly handled the ball in his box. The resulting spot-kick was fluffed rather comically by Ferjani Sassi, as his effort lacked composure, power, and direction.

A mere four minutes later, Senegal had a spot-kick of their own. Ismaila Sarr was brought down in the Tunisian box, however, Henri Saivet's shot was saved by Mouez Hassen in goal.

The action extended into extra time, and the intrigue followed suit. 10 minutes into extra time, the Tunisians inadvertently awarded the win to the Teranga Lions, as Mouez Hassen fluffed his lines, tipping a Sadio Mane freekick onto Dylan Bronn's head for an own-goal winner.

Senegal will square off with Algeria in the final, with the continent's regional powerhouses of North and West represented in the AFCON 2019 finale.

On that note, let's try to make sense of Senegal's victory.

#3 Ferjani Sassi's tame spot-kick

Ferjani Sassi misses a golden opportunity
Ferjani Sassi misses a golden opportunity

In a game of this magnitude, chances are meant to be buried with the ruthlessness the occasion deserves, especially when presented on a platter. However, Tunisia's Ferjani Sassi seemingly didn't get the memo, as he wasted perhaps his side's best chance of winning the game.

Senegal's Kalidou Koulibaly was penalised after the ball hit his arm in the box. The resultant penalty miss was more Sassi fumbling than Andre Gomis saving it. The run-up was bad and the shot was very weak.

If that spot-kick had been converted, perhaps the tide would have shifted totally in favour of the Carthage Eagles, and we would have had an epic North African derby to look forward to.

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Edited by Arvind Sriram
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