Johannesburg (AFP) – A three-goal blitz enabled Ivory Coast to whip Mali 3-1 Saturday in World Cup qualifying while Burkina Faso snatched a dramatic 1-1 draw with South Africa after wasting two penalties.
Democratic Republic of Congo thrashed Libya 4-0, Senegal overcame Cape Verde 2-0 and Gabon and Morocco drew 0-0 in other matchday 1 African clashes.
Sambou Yatabare stunned reigning African champions Ivory Coast by racing on to a long pass and chipping the ball over slow-reacting goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo for an early lead in Bouake.
But the Ivorians responded by laying siege to the Mali goalmouth and Jonathan Kodjia and Gervinho scored in a dazzling nine-minute spell during which Salif Coulibaly conceded an own-goal.
Kodjia, a recent recruit by English second-tier club Aston Villa, levelled on 25 minutes by slamming the ball past goalkeeper Oumar Sissoko from outside the box.
Rattled Mali fell behind when Coulibaly turned a low cross into his net five minutes later and China-based Gervinho fired the third goal from just inside the penalty area.
It was a great start for three-time World Cup qualifiers Ivory Coast in Group C, especially as likely closest rivals Morocco were held 0-0 by 2017 Africa Cup of Nations hosts Gabon in Franceville.
Jonathan Pitroipa had an early penalty saved by Itumeleng Khune and Alain Traore blazed another spot-kick over before Banou Diawara snatched a stoppage-time draw for Burkina Faso in Group D.
Dean Furman put three-time World Cup participants South Africa ahead on 80 minutes, rifling a low shot through a crowd of players and past goalkeeper Herve Kouakou Koffi after a corner was not cleared.
When Traore failed to equalise from his penalty a minute before the end of regular time in front of a 40,000 Ouagadougou crowd, the hosts seemed doomed.
However, South Africa failed to deal with a bicycle kick in the first minute of additional time and Diawara got a touch that diverted the ball past Khune.
Striker Keita Balde from Italian Serie A outfit Lazio scored the first goal and created the second as dominant Senegal cruised to victory in Dakar and took a two-point lead over Burkina Faso and South Africa.
Balde beat Vozinha with a low, close-range shot during the opening half and his clever back-heel allowed recalled Sow to slam the ball into the net with 10 minutes left.
Dieumerci Mbokani netted early in each half to power DR Congo to an emphatic triumph over Libya in Kinshasa with Jonathan Bolingi and Ndombe Mubele the other scorers.
The decisive Congolese victory sent an early warning to their other Group A rivals, Tunisia and Guinea, who meet Sunday.
Among the other three fixtures is Zambia against Nigeria in Ndola.
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