Senegal edge 10-man Gambia to kick off AFCON title defense

Pape Gueye celebrates after scoring for Senegal.[CAF Online]

Defending champions Senegal kicked off their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title defense with a commanding 3-0 triumph over a 10-man Gambia, extending their unbeaten streak in the competition to eight matches.

Senegal, eyeing a place in history as the fourth nation to successfully defend their AFCON title, started the tournament in Yamoussoukro with a dream opening.

Sadio Mané orchestrated the breakthrough within four minutes, deftly setting up Pape Gueye, who clinically slotted the ball into the bottom corner.

Despite The Gambia's determination to make an impact, disrupted preparations – including a forced mid-flight turnaround to Ivory Coast – hindered their progress.

Their best chance came just before the half-hour mark when Ali Sowe squandered a close-range header.

The Scorpions faced an uphill battle after halftime when Ebou Adams received a red card for a reckless tackle on Lamine Camara.

Capitalizing on the numerical advantage, Senegal, under Aliou Cissé's guidance, swiftly doubled their lead. Camara capitalized on Ismaïla Sarr’s through-ball, neatly finishing into the far corner.

The Lions of Teranga missed a quickfire third as Habib Diallo's close-range effort was thwarted by Baboucarr Gaye. However, Senegal sealed the deal with a spectacular strike from Camara, assisted by Iliman Ndiaye, securing a comfortable victory.

The Gambia now faces a crucial test against Guinea in their second group-stage match on Friday, aiming for a positive response after a challenging AFCON opener.

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