Tunisia end Madagascar’s fairytale run in maiden AFCON to reach semi-finals
Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final - Al Salam Stadium – Madagascar 0 Tunisia 3 (F. Sassi 52', Y. Msakni 60', N. Sliti 90+3')
In the end, class told: Tunisia were simply too good for Madagascar. But Madagascar were once again disciplined, organised and enterprising, the undisputed sensation of their first Cup of Nations, but Tunisa deservedly advance to meet Senegal in the first of Sunday's semi-finals.
The early stages of the game were tight, with neither side so much as creating and opportunity to create an opportunity to score. But gradually, Tunisia imposed themselves, pinning Madagascar inside their own half and playing with increasing menace in the quarter of an hour before the break.
When the players returned, Tunisia maintained momentum, and took the lead on 52 minutes when a fine move allowed Ferjani Sassi to shoot. Aiming for the bottom corner, he found the corner of Thomas Fontaine's bottom, and the deflection was enough to take the ball past Melvin Adrien.
A clincher always looked more likely than an equaliser and on 59 minutes it arrived, Youssef Msakni flying forward to find Wahbi Khazri, whose shot was pushed back into Msakni's path; he coolly slotted home.
Still Madagascar could not threaten, and in the final minute of injury-time they fell further behind, wasting a corner and allowed Khazri to break; he found Naim Sliti, who clipped home a lovely finish.
What do Tunisia do now? Tunisia are a possession team, but against Senegal that might leave them open to counters. Alain Giresse needs to decide whether his team should sit back and hope they do something good or hope something goes their way, or look to impose themselves by putting their opponent under pressure?
MAN OF THE MATCH
Youssef Msakni (Tunisia) Led by example, scoring the clincher and always running and prompting.
Madagascar: Adrien 7, Metanire 6, Fontaine 6, Razak 6, Mombris 6, Ilaimaharitre 5, Anicet 5, Amada 5, Carolus 5, Andria 5, Nomenjanahary 5. Subs: Voavy 6, Morel 6, Njiva 5.
31’ - Msakni takes the ball on the half-turn and oozes away from Razak, who treads on his foot ... just. Free-kick Tunisia, 25 yards out, fractionally right of centre. Khazri fancies it; or course he does...
32’ - ...and what an effort! He swings it over the wall, the ball dips hard and moves towards the roof of the net ... but Adrien dives to tip over!
34’ - Metanire advances and, wide on the right with his crossing lane blocked, tries to lift a shot over Hassen from 30 yards. It's a pretty good effort too, but sails a foot over the bar.
52’ - GOAL! Madagascar 0-1 Tunisia (Fotaine, own goal) A lovely ball, spread from centre to left by Meriah, finds Msakni. He moves onto Sassi and he cuts into and across the box, looking for the far bottom corner ... and finding the corner of Fotaine's bottom! From there, Adrien is wrong-footed, and there we are!
59’ - GOAL! Madagascar 0-2 Tunisia (Msakni) Class tells! Tunisia fly at them again, Msakni offloading a lovely pass to Khazri as a challenge comes in. Just outside the box, Khazri takes a touch and bangs in a low shot that Adrien can only push out to Msakni; he takes a touch and buries a low finish inside the near post. Tunisia are going through; the fairytale is over!
90+3’ - GOAL! Madagascar 0-3 Tunisia (Sliti) Madagascar win a corner which is cleared at the front post and the ball goes straight to Khazri, who dashes over halfway. Anicet retrets between him and Sliti, trying to cut off the pass and block the route to goal, but eventually the ball passes across him and Sliti lifts a lovely little curler over Adrien.nüùãn