Mane leads Senegal to win over Tunisia


Ferjani Sassi of Tunisia challenges Sadio Mane of Senegal during the Afcon Group B match between Tunisia and Senegal on the 15 January 2017 at Franceville Stadium, Gabon.

FRANCEVILLE - Senegal's Sadio Mane converted a 10th minute penalty to send them on their way to a 2-0 victory over Tunisia and top place in Group C at the African Nations Cup on Sunday.

Centre back Kara Mbodji scored the second goal on the half-hour as Senegal became the first team to register a win at the tournament after the first three games all ended in draws.

But the victory was far from convincing as Tunisia missed several chances, notably in a dominant second-half performance.

Senegal made the perfect start as Tunisia's experienced centre back Aymen Abdennour, caught for pace with a sliding tackle, took out the feet of captain Cheikhou Kouyate from under him, to give away an early penalty.

Africa's most expensive footballer Mane, who moved to Liverpool from Southampton for a reported R550-million last June, tucked away the kick.

The lead was doubled on the half-hour mark when Mbodji rose majestically above the Tunisia defence to power home a header from a corner as Senegal, the top-ranked African team, sought to confirm their status as one of the tournament favourites.

By then, Tunisia striker Ahmed Akaichi had already squandered two good chances and the profligacy in front of goal continued in the second half with Youssef Msakni particularly wasteful.

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Senegal's defence looked poorly organised and even contrived to help the Tunisians out of their misery when Mbodji hammered an attempted clearance against his own woodwork in the 69th minute.

There was also a stunning save from Senegal goalkeeper Abdoulaye Diallo to deny Msakni 12 minutes from time.

But Senegal also had chances on the counter-attack. Substitute Ismaila Sarr hit the crossbar, straight after coming on as a substitute, and Mane failed to take a good opportunity in the last 10 minutes.

Earlier at the Stade de Franceville, Sunday's opening match in Group B between Algeria and Zimbabwe ended in a 2-2 draw.

Senegal next meet Zimbabwe on Thursday while neighbours Algeria and Tunisia meet in a derby clash also in Franceville, Gabon's second city.