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Feb 9, 2013

Mali tops Ghana to win 3rd place again

Mali enjoyed a second successive third-place victory over Ghana at the African Nations Cup in Port Elizabeth, 3-1 on Saturday.

Goals from Mahamadou Samassa and Seydou Keita gave control to Mali, which had to hold on thereafter.

Mubarak Wakaso blazed a 56th-minute penalty over the bar before Kwadwo Asamoah's speculative strike with eight minutes left eluded a diving Mali goalkeeper Soumaila Diakite.

But Ghana failed to force an equalizer and substitute Sigamary Diarra ensured Mali would again take a podium place, after beating Ghana 2-0 in this game last year, with an injury-time strike.

Ghana made a promising start with Asamoah Gyan volleying over from 25 yards while Christian Atsu forced Diakite into action for the first time on 15 minutes.

Despite that, it was Mali that grabbed the opening goal through Samassa after 21 minutes.

Adama Tamboura delivered a cross from the left side of the penalty area that the Chievo striker nodded home.

Samassa almost had a second just before halftime, but his 18-yard effort struck a post and bounced to safety.

Mali did go 2-0 ahead three minutes after the break when its former Barcelona midfielder Keita timed his run perfectly to score.

Ousmane Coulibaly rolled a low pass across the face of goal and, while there were defenders stationed on the line, Keita's was best placed as he made a late run from midfield to stab home.

Ghana should have drawn level from the penalty spot, though the award was contentious.

Salif Coulibaly was ruled to have handled a cross from the right, although replays suggested he had used his chest to control the ball.

It mattered not as Wakaso, who had converted his three penalties in the tournament so far, sliced his shot high over the crossbar.

However, Mali was clearly nervous in holding its advantage, underlined by a skittish performance from Diakite in goal.

He got lucky on 72 minutes when at first he dropped a routine cross into the area. Gyan got a foot on the ball in the ensuing melee as Diakite finally slumped on the ball at the third attempt.

Keita then correctly had a goal disallowed for offside before Diakite inexplicably missed Asamoah's long-range strike.

The goalkeeper overreacted to his shot, diving full length to his left when he needed only to stand still, to allow a well-hit shot drift inside him and into the net.

Solomon Asante was booked for diving trying to win a penalty in injury time before Sigamary Diarra sealed the win, lashing in a first-time shot after the Ghana defense failed to clear a long punt forward.

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