Malawi secured their second ever win in the Africa Cup of Nations finals when they defeated Zimbabwe 2-1 in a Group B match at Stade Omnisports de Bafoussam on Friday night.
Mhango was in his element as the quick forward scored a goal in each half to inspire the Flames to a victory over the Warriors, who scored their consolation goal through Ishmael Wadi.
The Flames of Malawi had begun their Group B campaign with a 1-0 defeat to Guinea on Monday, while Zimbabwe's Warriors succumbed to a 1-0 loss to Senegal on the same day.
Malawi were boosted by the return of their star forward Mhango to the starting line-up after the Orlando Pirates star missed the game against Guinea due to a positive Covid-19 test.
While the attack-minded duo of Kundai Benyu and Knowledge Musona started for the Warriors after they shrugged off flu ahead of the Southern African Derby encounter.
The match got off to a lively start with neither happy to sit back and invite pressure, but Malawi suffered a blow as their captain Limbikani Mzava went down injured and he was replaced by Lawrence Chaziya in the 27th minute.
The AmaZulu FC central defender's departure unsettled the Flames' defence and they conceded. Wadi headed home a lovely cross from Onismor Bhasera to hand Zimbabwe a 1-0 lead in the 38th minute.
However, the lead only lasted for five minutes as Mhango marked his return to the Flames starting line-up with a goal. The diminutive attacker turned home a cross from Francisco Madinga to level matters and the score was 1-1 at half-time.
Another lively half followed as Mhango tormented the Warriors defence with his sharp movement. The 28-year-old grabbed his brace when he beat three Zimbabwe defenders, before firing past on-rushing keeper Petros Mhari to make it 2-1 to Malawi in the 58th minute.
The goal unsettled the Zimbabwean defence and they nearly conceded another goal after Mhango was sent through on goal. However, this time he failed to keep his composure in front of goal as the Chiweta-born player fired wide of the target.
Kudakwashe Mahachi, Admiral Muskwe and Jordan Zemura were all introduced by coach Norman Mapeza as Zimbabwe looked to snatch a late equalising goal, but Malawi stood firm at the back and the Flames emerged 2-1 winners on the night.
The crucial win saw Malawi remain third on the group standings, but they are now a point behind leaders, Guinea and they will face Senegal on Tuesday.
Zimbabwe remained fourth on the standings and they will take on Guinea on Tuesday.