Premier League pair Cheikhou Kouyate and Ismaila Sarr help Senegal to last four

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Premier League Pair Cheikhou Kouyate And Ismaila Sarr Help Senegal To Last Four Premier League Pair Cheikhou Kouyate And Ismaila Sarr Help Senegal To Last Four
Famara Diedhiou, © AP/Press Association Images
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By Phil Casey, PA

Substitutes Cheikhou Kouyate and Ismaila Sarr made decisive contributions as Senegal beat Equatorial Guinea 3-1 to reach the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Crystal Palace midfielder Kouyate had only been on the pitch for two minutes when he capitalised on some woeful defending to restore Senegal’s lead after Jannick Buyla had cancelled out Famara Diedhiou’s opener.

And Sarr then finished off a superb move 11 minutes from time as he made his first appearance for club or country since scoring in Watford’s 4-1 win over Manchester United on November 20.

Sadio Mane completed 90 minutes despite the worrying head injury he suffered during the last-16 tie against Cape Verde and the Liverpool forward set up the opening goal with a pinpoint pass to Diedhiou, allowing the Alanyaspor striker to fire home at the near post.

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Equatorial Guinea were awarded a penalty early in the second half when Iban Edu flicked the ball on to the hand of Kalidou Koulibaly, only for the referee to be told by VAR to look at the pitchside monitor before reversing his decision.

Perhaps fuelled by a sense of injustice, the underdogs continued to push forward and deservedly equalised after 57 minutes, Buyla firing home with the outside of his right foot after being played in by Pablo Ganet’s sublime reverse pass.

However, Senegal edged back in front 10 minutes later when Equatorial Guinea failed to clear a corner, two defenders went for the same ball and Akapo Martinez succeeded only in heading it backwards for Kouyate to nip in front of the goalkeeper and prod home.

And fellow substitute Sarr put the result beyond doubt when he side-footed into an empty net from Saliou Ciss’s low cross following a brilliant cross-field pass from Koulibaly.

Senegal will face Burkina Faso in the last four.

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