World Cup Qualifiers: Mali advance as Group E leaders, Benin take Group J battle down to the wire

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Mali players celebrate
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The Eagles kept alive their hopes of playing in their maiden World Cup tournament next year after a dominant win in Kigali

Southampton winger Moussa Djenepo and Nantes striker Kalifa Coulibaly were on target as Mali progressed into the play-off round of the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers on Thursday.

The Eagles advanced in style with a 3-0 away victory in Kigali that stretched their Group E lead to 13 points after five matches.

Mali's progress ended Uganda's dreams of making it to Qatar 2022 after they played out a 1-1 draw against Kenya earlier on Thursday.

Rwanda suffered an early blow in the encounter after Djihad Bizimana was shown a straight red card in the eighth minute and Mohamed Magassouba's men did not waste time to punish them with goals.

Djenepo got the visitors off to a flying start at the Nyamirambo Regional Stadium with the opening goal in the 19th minute and they immediately followed it up with Ibrahima Kone's goal that doubled their lead, a minute later.

With two minutes left on the clock, Coulibaly sealed the emphatic victory as the Eagles extended their unbeaten streak to four wins and a draw.

Mali will now hope to finish their group outings on a high when they host Uganda on Sunday while Kenya battle Rwanda.

Elsewhere, Benin opened up the battle for Group J dominance after they defeated Madagascar 2-0, thanks to goals from Clermont's Jodel Dossou and Brest's Steve Mounie in the 44th and 79th minutes respectively.

The Squirrels lead the group with 10 points after five matches and they are two points ahead of DR Congo who defeated Tanzania 3-0.

Goals from Gael Kakuta, Idumba Fasika and Ben Malango helped the Leopards to victory.

The battle for the only qualifying ticket in Group J will go down to the wire in Kinshasa when DR Congo host Benin on Sunday for their final group fixture.

Meanwhile in Lome, Senegal fought back late on Thursday night to hold Togo to a 1-1 draw.

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Strasbourg striker scored a 93rd-minute equaliser for the Teranga Lions after Pape Cisse put the ball into the back of his own net, just before half-time.

Liverpool's Sadio Mane started the encounter but he was replaced as early as in the 28th minute.

Despite the dropped points, Senegal are still Group H leaders with 13 from five matches while Togo are their closest rivals with five points after the same number of games.

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