Liverpool winger Sadio Mane was left disappointed as his Senegal side fell to a 2-1 loss to South Africa in their World Cup qualifying clash.
Mane was named in Aliou Cisse’s starting lineup at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, as Senegal continued their campaign to reach the World Cup in Russia in 2018.
The 24-year-old, wearing the No. 10 shirt, typically stationed himself in a central attacking role, and proved a troubling presence for South Africa throughout.
It was Mane’s header that provided one of the best chances of the first half, but he couldn’t beat goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune.
The majority of the first half was a drab affair, but two goals in three minutes just before the interval gave Bafana Bafana a comfortable lead.
The first came from Thulani Hlatshwayo, with Bidvest Wits centre-back powering home a penalty on 43 minutes, before Ajax midfielder Thulani Serero passed into the bottom corner after a lovely sweeping move just before half-time.
Cisse made a change at the break, bringing on Cheikh N’Doye in place of Mohamed Diame, and it was the 30-year-old who capitalised as Senegal enjoyed a more convincing second half.
With Mane among those driving forward whenever possible, the Reds winger’s overhead kick pinballed around the penalty area, with N’Doye ultimately on hand to force the ball in from point-blank range.
Senegal continued to push for an equaliser, with Mane almost levelling after beating Khune one-on-one, but it wasn’t to be for the Lions of Teranga, who are now a point behind South Africa in Group D after two games played.
On a positive note, Mane played through the whole 90 minutes without picking up an injury, and the former Southampton man is now set to return to Merseyside to report to training.
This was the only outing of the international break for Senegal, allowing Mane to rejoin his team-mates at Melwood early next week.
Liverpool’s next clash comes against the Saints at St. Mary’s on November 19, with Mane making his first appearance against his old club since making the £30 million move to Anfield in June.
Loris Karius, James Milner, Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and Emre Can are among those to have sat out the international break, while Simon Mignolet, Ragnar Klavan, Georginio Wijnaldum, Ovie Ejaria and Divock Origi should also be back by Monday.
Six of Klopp’s key players will return later, however, with Nathaniel Clyne, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge with the England squad set to take on Spain at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday.
Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino are due to turn out for Brazil against Peru on Wednesday, before boarding a chartered plane back to England, likely on the same day.