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Sadio Mane scores and assists to send Senegal to the AFCON final

Sadio Mane provided an assist and scored the decisive goal to make sure of Senegal’s place in the Africa Cup of Nations final in a 3-1 win over Burkina Faso.

Liverpool’s No. 10 was the first to see his fate decided in the AFCON semi-finals as Senegal met Burkina Faso on Wednesday evening, ahead of Egypt’s meeting with hosts Cameroon on Thursday.

Senegal’s route to the final four was an unbeaten one across their five games, with Mane playing all but 20 minutes in their campaign, while Burkina Faso tasted defeat just once, in the group stage.

After reaching two previous finals without success, including three years ago against Algeria, all the pressure was on Mane and Senegal’s shoulders.

The 29-year-old lined up alongside the likes of Idrissa Gueye, Ahmadou Bamba Dieng, Cheikhou Kouyate, Kalidou Koulibaly and Eduoard Mendy in a strong side that reflected their status as tournament favourites.

The first half was not conducive to free-flowing football with stretchers readily on the pitch to assist players off the field, and two penalties awarded to Senegal overturned on review of the pitchside monitor.

And the breakthrough only arrived in the 70th minute off the boot of Paris Saint Germain’s Abdou Diallo after a touch of chaos in the box from an out-swinging corner.

The second then swiftly followed thanks to Mane pouncing and failing to give up on the play on the by-line before cutting his pass back into the box for Gueye to slide into the net for 2-0.

And just as Burkina Faso piled on the pressure by pegging one back, Mane brilliantly rose to the occasion and buried a one-on-one with the ‘keeper on the counter to seal the victory and send his team to the final.

Ice cold from the No. 10.

The result ensures Mane, who now has three goals and two assists in the competition, will take his place in the showpiece on Sunday, hours after the conclusion of Liverpool’s FA Cup tie against Cardiff.

As for their opponents, Senegal will have to wait until Thursday to see who they will meet but there is a strong possibility of it being a Sadio Mane vs. Mo Salah showdown.

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