Goals from Abdou Diallo, Bamba Dieng and Sadio Mane sent Senegal into a second consecutive Afcon final - though they were made to fight for it, Burkina contributing much to an affirming encounter that hopefully brought joy to the people at a difficult time.
A first 45 minutes that last 54 minutes was a great start to a pulsating encounter, both sides throwing everything – bodies, faces, core of being – into reaching the final.
There wasn’t much in the way of chances, though Burkina narrowly avoided conceding a penalty when Herve Koffi charged to the edge of his box to punch away from Cheikhou Koyate; the referee originally pointed to the spot before changing his mind, while poor Koffi, who’s had a fine tournament, was carried off.
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Then, right at the end of injury-time, Edmund Tapsoba blocked Idrissa Gueye’s shot and again, the ref swayed the spot-kick, this time consulting with var to ascertain a block made with torso rather than arm.
In the second half, Senegal were much the better team, taking the lead on 70 minutes when Dilallo kept his composure to caress home following a corner and made it two on 82, Mane's superb harrying and calm lay-back sitting up Dieng, and though a brilliantly improvised kneed finish from Blati Toure gave Burkina brief hope, as they chased an equaliser, a collision between Toure and Edmund Tapsoba sent Mane through alone, and he finished just as everyone knew he would.
Egypt or Cameroon now stand between Senegal and a first Afcon title; it’ll take something serious to take it from them.

TALKING POINT

The early days of this tournament seem a long time ago now, various refereeing controversies providing more excitement than many of the games, the majority of which featured one or no goals. But, just as the team that plays best in the groups is rarely the team dancing around with the trophy at the end, the great competitions are not those with fun groups - think the 2002 and 2014 World Cups – but those whose knockout stages deliver – think the 1990 and World cup and Euro 2000 - and Afcon 2022 has that in hand.

After a riveting series of quarter-finals, the first semi was a fierce, absorbing and fascinating encounter, and also helped by the referee. Twice, the referee awarded Senegal first-half penalties, and twice, he was wise enough and brave enough to overrule himself.

The portents for the remainder are excellent. Cameroon are full of goals and momentum, fired by their home crowd, while Egypt have Africa’s best player in Mohamed Salah; neither will wait to be asked, and waiting in the final are a team who are absolutely desperate - in the best possible way. Do not look away.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Sadio Mane (Senegal) For over an hour, it was Tapsoba, who defended and distributed superbly, but then Senegal took over with Mane making their second goal and scoring their third.

PLAYER RATINGS

Burkina Faso: Koffi 5, Kabore 6, Tapsoba 7, Dayo 6, Yago 6, Toure 6, Sangare 5, Guira 5, Bande 6, Traore 7, Bayala 6. Subs: Farid 6, Sanogo 6, Tapsoba 6, Ouedraogo 6.
Senegal: Mendy 6, Sarr B 6, Koulibaly 7, Diallo 7, Ciss 7, Kouyate 6, Mendy 6, Dieng 6, Gueye I 6, Mane 8, Diedhiou 5. Subs: Gueye P 6, Sarr I 6, Sarr P 6, Cisse 6.
KEY MOMENTS
29’ - Koffi comes right to the edge of his box to punch away from Kouyate, getting ball not head - just. Both players are down, but hopefully both should be fine. But did the ref give a penalty?

36’ - NO PENALTY! Koffi gets it first, and though his other arm then shoves Kouyate, they're challenging for a ball that's there for both of them to win!
45+7’ - PENALTY TO SENEGAL! Mane goes down the left yet again and cuts back for Gueye, who absolutely annihilates a shot that hits Tapsoba on the lat! He's booked and out of the final, but that's never a pen - he's turned away from it and it maybe flicked his elbow, but he wore the meat of it on the body.

45+9’ - NO PENALTY! Well done referee. He rescinds Tapsoba's yellow too
70’ - GOAL! Burkina Faso 0-1 Senegal (Diallo) And there it is! Diallo attacks the original outswinger and misses it, but causes enough aggro to stop Burkina getting the ball away, then behind him, Koulibaly tries an overhead kick to put it back in the mixer, and Diallo controls with his first touch on the half-turn, has the composure to let the ball drop, then tuck away a half-volley from close range! Have the centre-backs combined to put their team in the final?!

76’ - GOAL! Burkina Faso 0-2 Senegal (Dieng) SENEGAL ARE GOING INTO THEIR SECOND STRAIGHT FINAL! Dayo dallies on the ball on the by-line - foolish behaviour with Mane in the vicinity - and he nashes in, robs him, moves along the line and cuts back, where Dieng slides in ahead of Gueye to seal the match!

82’ - GOAL! Burkina Faso 1-2 Senegal (Toure) This is a bazzing goal! Traore drops deep, spreads to Kabore, and though his cross arrives at a tricky height, Toure does brilliantly to leap into a finish that he steers home with his knee! I know! Game expletive on!

87’ - GOAL! Burkina Faso 1-3 Senegal (Mane) AND THAT IS THAT! Sent clear on the counter when Tapsoba is tackled by Toure, his own man, Mane shrieks clear of the chasing defenders, draws the keeper, and clips an expert finish over the keeper's dive and high into the net.
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