Sadio Mane is through to the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals, following Senegal’s 1-0 win over Benin on Wednesday.
Mohamed Salah‘s AFCON dream died last weekend, as hosts Egypt crashed out of the competition at the expense of South Africa.
It was down to Mane to keep the Liverpool involvement going, as his much-fancied Senegal side faced Benin in Cairo.
The Reds’ No.10 was a prominent figure early on, with his pace and movement seeing him twice get in on goal, only to be flagged for offside on both occasions.
Senegal struggled to get going in the first half, however, and Mane failed to add to his three goals in the tournament – that’s the joint-most currently, along with Adam Ounas (Algeria), Odion Ighalo (Nigeria) and Cedric Bakambu (DR Congo).
The offside flag denied Mane again early in the second half, as the 27-year-old’s header was correctly ruled out.
— Lou (@louorns) July 10, 2019
He always looked like making something happen, though, and played a key role in Senegal going in front with a quarter of the game remaining.
Mane produced a lovely assist that Everton‘s Idrissa Gueye scored from, as the favourites’ hard work finally paid off.
Incredibly, he was denied by an offside decision yet again soon after, and almost netted after a dramatic goalmouth scramble.
Mane was electric by this point and Olivier Verdon was sent off after hauling the Liverpool man to the ground late in the day.
Senegal saw out the final exchanges to book a place in the last four – Mane was booked in stoppage time – keeping his dream of AFCON glory alive in the process.
The win means Senegal will face either Madagascar or Tunisia in the semi-finals on Sunday (5pm BST), with the pair locking horns on Thursday evening (8pm).
Of course, Mane’s continued participation in the tournament delays his return to Liverpool, with the forward set to miss the start of the season.