Mauritania fell to a 4-1 loss against Mali on their Africa Cup of Nations bow.
The tournament newcomers were not disgraced in Suez on Monday but found Mali’s extra experience and quality in attack too much to handle in the Group E clash.
Mali captain Abdoulay Diaby scored a wonder goal to open the scoring and Porto striker Moussa Marega added their second from the penalty spot.
And they made sure of all three points when Adama Noss jinked into space and rifled home from the edge of the area, although Moctar Sidi El Hacen converted a consolation penalty before Adama Traore wrapped up the scoring with a stunning curler.
Mauritania showed few nerves on their AFCON debut and could have opened the scoring in the first minute, Ismael Diakite narrowly missing the target with a speculative strike.
Diaby and Noss wasted efforts at the other end before Mali broke Mauritania’s resistance in the 37th minute.
Noss fed Diaby and he drove through a crowd of defenders before unleashing a 20-yard finish that gave Brahim Souleymane no chance.
Souleymane was beaten again before half-time, the goalkeeper clumsily bringing down Lassana Coulibaly after spilling a shot, with Marega calmly slotting home the penalty.
Mauritania’s defensive weaknesses were exposed again in the 55th minute when Noss scored a fine solo effort, but they were able to celebrate their first AFCON goal when Hacen struck from the spot after Mamadou Fofana brought down Diakite.
Mali were not done, though, with substitute Traore bending in the goal of the game from outside the box.
Key Opta Facts:
– Mali have never lost their opening game at an AFCON tournament (W6 D5).
– Mali have won their first game ever at the AFCON by a margin of three goals. They have scored four goals in an AFCON game for the first time since 2010 (4-4 against Angola).
– Mauritania are the first beginner team at the AFCON to lose by a margin of at least three goals in their first game in the competition since Sierra Leone in 1994 (defeat 0-4 against Ivory Coast).