Africa Cup of Nations 2013: Mali claim successive third-place finishes
Africa Cup of Nations 2013: Mali ease to a 3-1 victory over Ghana in the Afcon third-place play-off on Saturday night
Seydou Keita’s Mali ended their 2013 Africa Cup of Nations campaign by defeating Ghana in the third-place play-off for the second successive year.
Mamadou Samassa and ex-Barcelona man Keita gave Mali the lead while Mubarak Wakaso missed a penalty, with Kwadwo Asamoah grabbing a consolation, before Sigamary Diarra sealed the win.
Mali were looking to bounce back from their crushing 4-1 loss to Nigeria and came close through Khalilou Traore’s half-volley on eight minutes, which flew wide.
Moments later, Samassa spurned the first clear-cut chance as he forced Ghana keeper Abdul Dauda into a low save from a tight angle.
The Black Stars responded with an equally well-worked opportunity but Christian Atsu could only fire Soloman Asantu’s cut-back at Mali’s Soumbeila Diakite.
Samassa’s second goal of the tournament broke the deadlock on 21 minutes with an excellent diving header from Adama Tamboura’s cross.
Juventus midfielder Asamoah had a good chance to equalise for Ghana just minutes after but he could only hit the side netting from close range.
Just before half-time, The Eagles twice came close to doubling their lead but Samassa’s clipped finish came off the post before Keita sent a good chance begging.
Two minutes after the break, Keita made amends for his first-half miss by grabbing Mali’s second, slotting home Ousmane Coulibaly’s low cross.
Ghana had a glorious opportunity to get back into the game when referee Eric Otogo-Castane awarded a penalty after a dubious hand-ball decision.
Wakaso scored the winner from the spot when the sides met in the group stage but tournament’s top scorer blazed the penalty over the bar.
Ghana turned to captain Asamoah Gyan to get them back into the game but the ex-Sunderland man could not beat Diakite with a free-kick.
Keita almost put daylight between the sides, first stinging Dauda’s fingertips with a free-kick before having a strike narrowly ruled out for offside.
Asamoah gave Ghana a glimmer of hope nine minutes from time when his long-range strike was flapped at by Diakite and flew in.
But, despite intense pressure from Ghana, sub Diarra’s injury-time half-volley sealed a deserved win for Mali over a lacklustre Ghana side.