Ibrahima Kone was the toast of the Malian side as he scored a hattrick and laid out one assist Les Aigles soared over Harambee Stars with an affirming 5-0 victory in Agadir in their third qualification match for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Mali remains unbeaten in Group E and now move top with seven points with the fourth round of matches scheduled for Sunday. Kenya dropped to third with two points and now must win the return tie in Nairobi to get themselves back into contention.
It took Mali only seven minutes to break the deadlock after a shambolic start by the Kenyans. The Harambee Stars cheaply lost the ball in a dangerous area with Mali turning possession, Kone playing out wide to Adama Traore, the latter slicing a low shot between keeper Ian Otieno’s feet.
The Malians doubled their tally in the 22nd minute when Traore returned the favour to nod down the ball for Kone, the latter battling Joseph Okumu to direct the ball into the net.
With his side being run all over by Mali, new coach Engin Firat made changes after 34 minutes, Joash Onyango and Lawrence Juma coming off for Abdallah Hassan and Eric Zakayo.
But, it would be Mali who were flying away at 3-0 in the 35th minute with Kone adding his second with a simple tap in after a corner was flicked his way and over keeper Ian Otieno.
It was 4-0 at the stroke of halftime when Kone completed his hattrick from the penalty spot after Moussa Djenepo was hauled down inside the box.
At the start of the second half, the coach made another change, bringing keeper Otieno off for Faruk Shikalo. Kenya were better but Mali were content with the score and took to the back seat.
It would be the Malians who would score again to complete the five-star performance. A brilliant strike from Moussa Doumbia from the outside of the boot hit the upright and bounced off Shikalo’s chest and into the net.
Tunisia 3-0 Mauritania
Meanwhile in Rades, Tunisia kept their 100% record in Group B with an assured performance beating Mauritania 3-0 to move to nine points.
Ellyes Skhiri, Wahbi Khazri and Seifeddine Jaziri were all on target for the Carthage Eagles as they kept their hunt for a place in Qatar 2022 alive.
They broke the deadlock in the 14th minute through Skhiri’s marvelous effort from long range. A cross from the left was defended to his path and the midfielder took the effort on the half volley, hammering it into the net.
The Mauritanian goalkeeper pulled off two brilliant one on one saves to deny Naim Sliti one on one.
But, Sliti made amends three minutes to the break when he turned provider, slicing a beautiful low cross from the right which Khazri stretched in to direct into the net.
Tunisia were comfortable and commanding in the second half, keeping possession and letting Mauritania chase for the ball, They cemented the victory five minutes to the end when Jaziri scored with a calm finish inside the box.