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sportsmata.com > Football > Mendes penalty propels Cape Verde into AFCON quarters with 1-0 win over Mauritania

Mendes penalty propels Cape Verde into AFCON quarters with 1-0 win over Mauritania

A dramatic late penalty from Ryan Mendes secured a narrow 1-0 victory for Cape Verde over Mauritania, sending them through to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Cape Verde entered the last-16 clash as clear favorites, having topped Group B undefeated ahead of powerhouses like Egypt and Ghana. 

Mauritania, on the other hand, were underdogs, having only secured their knockout stage berth with a surprise win over Algeria in their final group game – their first ever at the AFCON.

The match proved to be a tight affair, with Mauritania, competing in their first-ever AFCON knockout game, putting up a spirited fight.

For much of the game, it seemed destined for extra time, with both sides struggling to break through.

Mauritania had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the second half when Souleymane Anne found himself clear on goal, but his shot went agonizingly wide.

This miss proved costly as Cape Verde began to ramp up the pressure in search of a winner.

A flurry of Cape Verde corners followed, with Mendes himself seeing a headed effort brilliantly saved by the Mauritanian goalkeeper.

Time seemed to be running out for the Blue Sharks, but then came a decisive moment in the 87th minute.

An attempted headed clearance by Yassin El Welly went awry, falling perfectly for Gilson Benchimol.

The Cape Verde forward rounded the goalkeeper but was brought down inside the box, earning a clear penalty.

Captain Mendes stepped up with nerves of steel and sent his spot-kick right down the middle, sparking jubilation for Cape Verde.

Mauritania fought valiantly in the ten minutes of added time, but Cape Verde held firm to secure their place in the next round.

They will now face either Morocco or South Africa in the quarter-finals, aiming to continue their dream run in the tournament.