Seydou Keita

Seydou Keita

A late goal from captain Seydou Keita gave Mali a victory over Niger and the first win of the Africa Cup of Nations.

The former Barcelona midfielder slotted in with six minutes remaining, after the game looked to be heading for a fourth draw of the finals.

Niger keeper Daouda Kassaly dropped Fousseiny Diawara’s cross from the right, leaving Keita to volley home.

The win takes Mali to the top of Group B, after Ghana and DR Congo had earlier drawn 2-2 .

In a game that failed to sparkle for long periods, the Eagles – inspired by Keita – enjoyed much of the possession and largely deserved their victory.

Mali signalled their intent from the off, with big striker Cheick Tidiane Diabate rifling in a couple of efforts from the edge of the area and warming Kassaly’s hands.

Mali keeper Mamadou Samassa, winning only his second cap, sent Malian pulses racing at the other end as he came for and completely missed a floated corner, which, fortunately for him, sailed over everyone else.

Read more: BBC Sport