Mali have progressed to the play-off round of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers after beating 10-man Rwanda 2-0 in Kigali on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Benin have raised their hopes of progressing off Group J after beating Madagascar 2-0.
Mali finished match day five with 13 points, attaining an unassailable four-point lead over second placed Uganda Cranes who they meet in the last match day on Tuesday in Morocco.
The Malians were handed a boost of confidence pre-match when Uganda was held to a 1-1 draw by third placed Kenya in Kampala. The draw meant that Mali needed to win against Rwanda in Kigali to remain top of Group E.
And they did so, scoring two goals in two minutes. Rwanda were handicapped from early on when Djabel Bizimana was sent off after a straight red card in the seventh minute of the game.
Mali made full advantage of the numerical prowess and scored the opener in the 19th minute through Moussa Djenepo. Just a minute on the turn, the on-fire Ibrahima Kone doubled their tally with the second goal.
They managed the tempo of the game with ease in the second half and would have gone 3-0 up in the 64th minute but Adama Traore’s well taken shot was saved by Emery Mvuyekure.
Mali however added the third to seal the game with two minutes of regulation time left when Kalifa Coulibaly’s long range shot on the volley dipped into the bottom left corner.
Benin 2-0 Madagascar
Benin’s Les Squirrels moved top of their group with a 2-0 victory over Madagascar in Cotonou. The maximum haul sees them scale to 10 points, two ahead of DR Congo who earlier beat Tanzania 3-0 in Dar es Salaam.
The two sides will face off in the final match day of the group on Sunday with Benin just needing a point to progress.
Against Madagascar, Jodel Dossou starred with a goal and an assist as the Beninese side powered top of the group. He gave his side the lead two minutes from half time.
Benin buried the game in the 79th minute through Steve Mounie. Off a devastating counter attack, Dossou picked the ball on the right before squaring back to Mounie who did the simple task of side-footing the ball home.
Elsewhere, Namibia and Congo who were playing for pride in Group H shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw. Peter Shalulile scored the opner for Namibia in the first half before Guy Mbenza drew Congo level in the second half.
Senegal have already booked their ticket from this group.