Senegal beat Zimbabwe 1-0 in its African Cup of Nations opener Monday after Sadio Mané struck a penalty more than six minutes into injury time.

After Senegal’s misfiring first performance in Cameroon for much of the game, Mané sent the goalkeeper the wrong way and hammered the penalty into the left corner.

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Senegal never looked like Africa’s best squad, even when playing against a side ranked 101 places lower.

After Zimbabwe player Kelvin Madzongwe was penalised for handball in the fourth minute of injury time, there was finally a chance for a winner.

Zimbabwe protested passionately, but Guatemalan referee Mario Escobar stood firm in his decision after consulting a video review, which is being used for the first time at the African Cup. The ball struck Madzongwe’s arm after he threw himself on the ground to block a shot.

As soon as Zimbabwe set off again after Mané’s penalty, Escobar whistled for full time.

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Senegal was without goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and captain Kalidou Koulibaly, who were among a group of players who tested positive for the coronavirus and were ruled out of the game.

Six members of Senegal’s management staff tested positive before going to Cameroon, and striker Ismaila Sarr was ruled out of the competition before the opening game due to injury.

Senegal was defeated in the final of the 2019 African Cup of Nations by Algeria and is still looking for its first African trophy.

Before the exciting end, Senegal had chances against Zimbabwe. Mané had one of his better chances in the first half when he got past two defenders and into the penalty area, but his effort was straight at Zimbabwe goalkeeper Petros Mhari.

Another unfortunate miss for Senegal came in the second half when Pape Abou Cissé headed over from a corner with an open goal in front of him.

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On the second day of the African Cup, the first of four games in Group B was played. It was held in the western city of Bafoussam, where a small crowd gathered to see one of the title favourites perform.

Only supporters who have been properly vaccinated against COVID-19 and have documentation of recent negative viral testing will be allowed to watch games at this year’s African Cup, which is taking place amid a new global outbreak of the omicron variant.

The other Group B match pits Guinea against Malawi. In Group C, Morocco will meet Ghana later Monday, while Comoros, a tournament newcomer, will face Gabon.

The tournament began on Sunday in Yaounde, with host Cameroon defeating Burkina Faso 2-1.