Burkina Faso booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations after winning their Round of 16 fixture against Gabon 7-6 on penalties following 1-1 draw in normal time at Limbe Stadium on Sunday.
After missing from the penalty spot, Bertrand Traore, who turns out for Premier League side Aston Villa, made amends to score the opener for the Stallions in the 28th minute but midfielder Adama Guira scored into his own net in stoppage time to help the Panthers take the game to extra time.
It was Ismahila Ouedraogo who stepped up to decide the game after he drilled home the winning penalty to send the Stallions into the last eight.
However, it was the Panthers who started the game on a positive note and they should have taken the lead with only four minutes played when Lloyd Palun swung the ball into Burkina Faso’s danger zone but Jim Allevinah saw his powerful header go inches wide.
In the seventh minute, Gabon’s Allevinah was the first player to be booked by Moroccan referee Jiyed Redouane after his clumsy tackle on Traore and two minutes later, Burkina Faso’s Adama Guira was also booked for an infringement.
It was all Gabon and they squandered another chance in the 10th minute when Bruno Manga raced through to goal but his effort from long range whizzed wide of the right post with goalkeeper Herve Koffi out of his line.
After the missed chances, Gabon were almost punished five minutes later when defender Sidney Obissa committed a foul inside the box and referee Redouane decided to review the penalty decision using the VAR system.
The penalty was allowed to stand and up stepped Traore, who missed the chance to put the Stallions ahead after his effort smashed the crossbar.
It was relief for Gabon, who responded with a raid on Burkina Faso’s goal in the 26th minute but Aaron Boupendza’s effort from inside the box was blocked by defender Sidney Obissa.
In the 28th minute, the lanky Traore made amends from the penalty miss as he unleashed a powerful shot from distance and it turned out to be a good decision as his effort found its way into the bottom left corner for the Stallions to take the lead.
With three minutes left to the half-time break, Gabon thought they had levelled the scores after Boupendza’s effort found the back of the net, but it was ruled out by the video assistant referee due to an offside in the build-up play.
On return from the half-time break, Gabon coach Patrice Neveu made his first substitution, Louis Autchanga coming on to replace Alex Moucketou-Moussounda before Jim Allevinah paved the way for Denis Bouanga.
In the 68th minute, the Stallions were reduced to 10 men after Obissa was sent to an early shower after being shown his second yellow card following a bad challenge on Gustavo Sangare.
Traore had a good opportunity to make it 2-0 in the 73rd minute but his effort from the free-kick kissed the bar, and a minute later, Burkina Faso made their first change as Hassane Bande was replaced by Zakaria Sanogo.
After a host of missed chances, Traore was benched for Mohamed Konate in the 82nd minute.
However, with the game destined for the final whistle, Burkina Faso were punished for their bluntness in front of the goal as a well-executed corner kick by Denis Bouanga was directed into his own net by Guira.
The first period of extra time started with the Stallions creating the first chance, Konate attempting to convert a lofted cross but Gabon goalkeeper Jean-Noel Amonome showed his brilliant reflexes to pull off a glorious save and stop the ball from hitting the net.
Two minutes later, Burkina Faso found the back of the net through Abdoul Tapsoba but his effort was disallowed for offside, and he was later yellow carded for an infringement.
Burkina Faso’s Ouedraogo missed another chance after latching onto a defence-splitting pass in the box and without even looking up, he drilled a shot towards the goal but keeper Amonome pulled off another fantastic save to deny him.
It was Gabon who took the first penalty with Bouanga converting past Koffi and Burkina Faso also scored their first effort courtesy of Issa Kabore. Axel Meye then scored Gabon’s second, and Ouattara replied to make it 2-2 for the Stallions.
Gabon’s Boupendza did not make a mistake as he converted the third penalty with Tapsoba replying for Burkina Faso to make it 3-3. However, Guelor Kanga missed Gabon’s fourth but Burkina Faso failed to take advantage as Saidou Simpore effort missed the target.
Andre Poko then scored Gabon’s fourth penalty after hitting the ball straight down the middle but Steeve Yago hit back for Burkina Faso for a 4-4 result. Bruno Ecuele Manga then fired home Gabon’s fifth but the Stallions replied after Adama Guira scored.
Louis Ameka Autchang easily converted the sixth penalty for Gabon sending the keeper the wrong way but Mohamed Konate levelled the scores for Burkina Faso. Yannis N'Gakoutou missed for Gabon after his effort went inches wide over the crossbar and with another chance to win the game; Abdoul Tapsoba also failed to score for Burkina Faso.
Gabon once again missed from the spot after Palun failed to score after smashing the ball against the crossbar and up-stepped Ouedraogo to decide the game and he drilled home the winner to end the dramatic penalty shootout contest.