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27.06.2019 Cup of Nations

AFCON 2019: Madagascar Beat Burundi In Battle Of The Newbies

By Samuel Ekow Amoasi Appiah
AFCON 2019: Madagascar Beat Burundi In Battle Of The Newbies

Madagascar took a huge step towards qualifying for the knockout stages of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations with a 1-0 win over Burundi at Alexandria Stadium on Thursday.

Victory moves Barea up to four points in Group B, two points behind Nigeria who they face at the same venue on Sunday.

Marco Ilaimaharitra scored the only goal of the game in a clash dominated by the island nation from start to finish.

Madagascar conjured the first noteworthy chance of the game as Carolus 'Andrea' Andriamatsinoro forced Jonathan Nahimana into a top save in the 14th minute. The forward's dipping free-kick looked destined for the back of the net, but the Burundi shot-stopper had other ideas.

The two were at it again five minutes later. Nahimana parried a seemingly harmless cross into the path of the forward but made up for his mistake with a superb save to deny Barea once more.

Andriamatsinoro had one final chance before the break, but despite beating the Swallows goalkeeper the Saudi Arabia-based attacker watch on in agony as Gaël Duhayindavyi cleared his goal-bound attempt off the line.

Burundi finally fired a shot on target in the 68th minute through Gaël Bigirimana. The former Newcastle United midfielder has been his country's best player at the tournament, but despite hitting his free-kick with venom, Melvin Adrien shuffled to his left to keep the ball from bulging the back of the net.

Madagascar deservedly opened the scoring in the 76th minute. Ilaimaharitra the hero as he hammered home a set-piece from the edge of the area to send Barea into absolute delirium.

He almost had a second in the 88th, but this time Nahimana was up to the task - diving to his right to keep out the free-kick. It mattered little, though, as Madagascar claimed an historic win.