Sadio Mane scored the crucial goal that sent Senegal through to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations, but he should never have been on the pitch to do so.
After Naby Keita was made to watch on as Guinea were knocked out of the competition on Monday, next up was Mane to help Senegal seal their place in the quarter-finals.
With Senegal qualifying as winners of Group B, they were pitted up against one of the best third-placed sides in Cape Verde – who only picked up a point less in the group stage compared to Senegal.
Liverpool’s No. 10 headed into the last 16 match having played all 270 minutes in the opening three games, which returned a single goal.
Senegal’s chances were given an early boost as Cape Verde went down to 10 men in the 20th-minute but while Mane did hit the post, a breakthrough was not forthcoming.
Liverpool will be fuming that Mane’s been allowed to play on after this. pic.twitter.com/DZVXieDTwa
— Jack Lusby (@LusbyJack) January 25, 2022
A sickening collision between Mane and Cape Verde goalkeeper Vozinha then led to another red card for the clearly concussed stopper in the second half, and Liverpool’s No. 10 needed to be taken off – but he wasn’t!
Mane was knocked out almost instantly due to the contact to his head but staggeringly remained on the field of play and went on to score the opener just minutes later with what was a clinical top corner finish.
On the restart, however, he would be flat out on the turf and only then would he be assisted off – and you expect questions to be asked.
— DJ ™? (@ChiesaLFC) January 25, 2022
Bamba Dieng would make sure of the victory to make it 2-0, setting up a quarter-final for Senegal against the winner of Mali and Equatorial Guinea, with the last eight match to be played on January 30 – but concerns will linger for Mane.
The semi-final and subsequently the final will now be his objective, and the latter is to be played on the same day as the Anfield cup clash against Cardiff on February 6.
Mohamed Salah will now look to be Liverpool’s second representative in the competition, with Egypt to face Ivory Coast on Wednesday for a place in the quarters.