Mali beat 10-man Ghana 2-0 in the third-place match at the African Cup of Nations on Saturday for its best finish since it lost the 1972 final.
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Cheick Diabate scored both goals as Mali avenged its 2-0 defeat to Ghana in the group stage. The Ghanaians ended with successive losses after their surprise semifinal failure against Zambia.
Diabate pounced on a rebound to put Mali ahead in the 23rd minute and then slid in for the goal that sealed victory with 10 minutes left.
A lackluster Ghana struggled to find any rhythm at Nuevo Estadio de Malabo and had a goal from substitute Sulley Muntari disallowed for offside before defender Isaac Vorsah was sent off in the 64th for kicking out at Bakaye Traore.
Four-time champion Ghana has now finished third, second and fourth in the last three African Cups and hasn’t won the title for 30 years.
Diabate pounced when Adam Kwarasey palmed away a low shot with his right hand and the striker reacted ahead of Vorsah to score.
Jordan Ayew had a shot smothered by Mali keeper Oumar Sissoko in the 37th, but coach Goran Stevanovic’s decision to start without a recognized striker backfired and he had to send Prince Tagoe on after just 35 minutes.
Stevanovic left striker Asamoah Gyan out of the lineup after his penalty miss in the semi against Zambia, with Ayew brothers Jordan and Andre making up Ghana’s forward line in a new formation.
It didn’t work and Tagoe was introduced before halftime for Samuel Inkoom.
With Ghana trailing, Vorsah fell after tangling with Traore and then kicked out at his opponent as he lay on the ground. He was shown a second yellow to be the second Ghana player sent off at the tournament. Captain John Mensah was red-carded in the opening game against Botswana.
Diabate tapped in a low cross from right in front in the 80th and lay celebrating with teammates in the goal.
Jordan Ayew hit the post in the 88th to add to Ghana’s frustration.
Ghana: Adam Kwarasey, John Pantsil, Isaac Vorsah, Jonathan Mensah, Samuel Inkoom (Prince Tagoe, 35), Lee Addy, Andre Ayew, Kwadwo Asamoah (Masahudu Alhassan, 68), Anthony Annan, Mohammed Abu (Sulley Muntari, 46), Jordan Ayew.