It took a stoppage-time penalty by Bertrand Traore to earn Burkina Faso maximum points in their opening match at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations as the Stallions recorded a hard-fought 1-0 win over Mauritania at Stade Bouake.
Burkina Faso held most of the ball during the first 10 minutes of the match, however, it was Mauritania who produced the first attempt at goal.
In latching onto a loose ball outside the area, Aboubakary Koita’s looping shot was saved easily by Herve Koffi in goal.
The Stallions continued to press on and forced Mauritania back into their own half on numerous occasions.
Adama Guira came close to opening the scoring in the 25th minute, with his snap shot on the edge of the area whistling over the crossbar.
Mauritania were awarded a free-kick in an inviting position at the half-hour mark, with Koita summoning Koffi into action yet again.
Mourabitounes enjoyed large spells of ball possession after the half-hour mark and provided the Burkina Faso defence with a couple of worrisome moments.
However, Burkina Faso looked lively toward the end of the half but were met by aggressive defending by their opposite numbers.
Burkina Faso looked bright at the restart with Stephane Aziz Ki being the attacker in chief for his nation.
After a clever bit of play on the right-hand flank, Ki whipped into a teasing cross that forced a telling save out of goalkeeper Babacar Niasse.
The game reached a tacky period as the 75th minute approached with neither side able to create any notable goal-scoring opportunities.
However, Koffi sprung to Burkina Faso’s rescue after pulling off a stunning save from a powerful Koita shot on the edge of the 18-yard-area.
At the other end of the pitch Niasse carved out a top-drawer save from a curling effort by Bertrand Traore after a darting run on the right wing.
In a dramatic turn of events, Burkina Faso were awarded a penalty during stoppage time after the VAR officials spotted an infringement inside the area.
Stepping up the plate, Traore made no mistake from the spot in giving his side the lead and also the eventual winner.
Burkina Faso will now turn their attention to Algeria on 20 January, while Mauritania will face Angola on the same day.
Burkina Faso: (0) 1 (Traore 98’ P)
BURKINA FASO: Koffi, Yago, Tapsoba, Dayo, Kabore, Toure, Guira, Ki (Bande 86’), Bangare (Tapsoba 46’), Badolo (Traore 73’), Konate (Ouattara 85’)
MAURITANIA: Niasse, Gassama, Abeid, Keita, Fofana (Ngom 67’), Mohamed El Abd, Ba (Yaly 67’), Tanjy (Amar 57’), Thiam (El Hadji Ba 58’), Koita, Kamara (Anne 28’)