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Senegal dumped out of Africa Cup of Nations by Côte d’Ivoire

Shock

FBL-CAN-2024-SEN-CIV Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images

Nicolas Jackson is coming back to Chelsea a bit sooner than he would’ve wanted, and most would’ve anticipated, after tournament favorites and defending champions Senegal were shockingly dumped out of the Africa Cup of Nations last night, at the first knockout stage.

Senegal breezed through the group stage and were paired against Côte d’Ivoire, who may be the host nation, but barely squeaked into the knockout rounds. They were last ones in in fact, as fourth best (and final) third place team to make it. They had lost their previous game 4-0 to Equatorial Guinea!

So when Senegal took the lead in the fourth minute — lovely finish by Habib Diallo — it looked like the hosts would be in for another rough day. But Senegal failed to build on that lead, including Sadio Mané missing an absolute sitter in the second half.

No lead is more dangerous than a 1-0, and sure enough, Côte d’Ivoire got back level late on, when Édouard Mendy chopped down Nicolas Pépé in the box. (The referee hilariously carded Pépé for simulation at first, before VAR intervened to make the exceedingly obvious correct call.) Franck Kessié made no mistake.

And speaking of no mistakes, Côte d’Ivoire went a perfect five-for-five in the eventual penalty shootout — Mendy came close to saving a couple, but these things have never been his forte. Senegal missed one of their five and were thus sent packing. Jackson, who came on in the 67th minute, was not one of the first five penalty takers, incidentally. He finishes his tournament with zero starts and zero goals of any kind.

Senegal thus join Egypt in losing at the first proper hurdle. Côte D’Ivoire will play the winners of Mali vs. Burkina Faso in the quarterfinals. DR Congo vs. Guinea, Nigeria vs. Angola, and Cabo Verde versus the winners of Morocco vs. South Africa complete the final eight.

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