YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE 24, 2018: Senegal's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring in a 2018 FIFA World Cup Group H match against Japan at Yekaterinburg Arena. Sergei Bobylev/TASS

Sadio Mane nets last-minute penalty to secure valuable opening Senegal victory

Sadio Mane‘s Africa Cup of Nations campaign started on Monday against Zimbabwe and he was left to take the decisive kick that would seal victory for Senegal.

In the end, it was euphoria for Mane and heartbreak for Zimbabwe from the penalty spot as the game was decided off the boot of Liverpool’s No. 10.

The opening game in Group B looked set to end in a stalemate as Zimbabwe offered strong resistance against a Senegal side who struggled to find their clinical edge, despite their host of chances.

Mane was a key figure throughout, his side’s clear avenue to goal and he ought to have at least one assist from the first half but was left to watch on as Idrissa Gueye fluffed his lines from close range.

And just when it seemed as though Senegal, one of the favourites who were missing eight players due to Covid, were to have to settle for a point, a penalty was awarded after a handball from Kelvin Madzongwe.

With the clock reading 90+7′, up stepped Mane who converted with conviction to hand Senegal an invaluable 1-0 win in their opening game of the tournament.

The goal is Mane’s 26th for his country, a tally that sees him sit just five goals behind Senegal’s leading goalscorer, and former Wigan and Wolves man, Henri Camara (31).

And it is certainly not out of the realm of possibility that he assumes the title in his own right before Senegal’s AFCON campaign comes to a close.