Senegal have become the first team to qualify for the final qualification round of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup after a 3-1 victory over second placed Namibia preserved their 100pc record after four matches.
Famara Diedhiou struck a pair of headers and one tap in as his hattrick pulled Senegal clear to 12 points, eight ahead of second placed Namibia with two rounds of group matches left.
Diedhiou opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when he rose unmarked inside the box to glance home a well weighted cross from Sadio Mane.
Five minutes later though, the hosts who are playing their home matches in Johannesburg, South Africa equalized when Mamelodi Sundowns forward Peter Shalulile struck a brilliant left footed shot from the edge of the box.
Despite Namibia’s fight, they were not as creative in the final third as required. It was the Senegalese who would have added a second when Mane failed to volley the ball on target after the keeper’s save off a Keita Balde shot fell on his path.
Senegal however doubled their tally six minutes into the second half, Diedhiou scoring his second of the afternoon with another header after Saliou Ciss’s cross from the left found him unmarked inside the box.
Namibia once again almost equalized but Katjiteo Wesley sent his strong header across the bar with keeper Edouard Mendy well beaten.
The Teranga Lions however firmed up their victory six minutes from time when Mane and Diedhiou combined once again, the Liverpool forward slashing a low cross from the right which was met with a simple tap in by his mate.
Zimbabwe 0-1 Ghana
At the National Sports Stadium in Harare, Ghana’s Black Stars kept their hunt alive by going top of Group G, pending South Africa’s match against Ethiopia later Tuesday, after beating hosts Zimbabwe by a solitary goal.
Captain of the day Thomas Partey scored the lone goal with a well taken freekick from the edge of the box to send his side to nine points on top of the standings, two ahead of South Africa.
Partey struck the vital goal in the 31st minute when his effort curled over the wall and caught keeper Talbert Shumba off guard. Prior to that, Ghana had come close twice, first Kamal Deen Sulemana wriggling his way into the box from the left but his shot was saved.
Mohamed Kudus also had an effort from distance, but it flew inches wide.
Zimbabwe tried to push themselves back into the game in the second half, but Ghana were tactically disciplined and guarded the single goal advantage.
With two rounds of matches left, Zimbabwe are out of contention with only a point from four matches.