It was tug-of-war between Burundi and Mauritania, but a wonder goal from Selemani Ndikumana in the dying seconds of the match handed Burundi a crucial 3-2 win in their Group D CAF African Nations Championship match at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday night.
The result sees Burundi go to the top of Group D on four points, the same amount of points as Gabon but above them due to the fact they have scored more goals. For Mauritania, the loss spells the end of their competition as they cannot qualify for the knockout stages.
It was a blistering start to the game which saw Mauritania open the scoring in the second minute of the match as Ely Cheikh Voulany made the most of a poor defensive error.
Voulany robbed a defender of the ball on the left flank before driving into the 18-yard box and firing the ball past the keeper from an extremely acute angle 16-yards out, 1-0.
Mauritania continued to control matters after that, but were caught napping at the other end of the park as Burundi equalised ten minutes later against the run of play.
Fiston Razak Abdul lost his markers inside the box and rose highest to powerful head home a left wing cross to level matters, 1-1.
Despite being pegged back Mauritania continued to press forward and came close to finding their second goal in the 14th minute as Yacoub Fall fired narrowly over the target from 30-yards out.
Voulany was in the thick of the action seven minutes later for Mauritania after meeting a right wing cross with a strong header, but he saw his attempt go just wide.
Burundi were then gifted a great chance to take the lead in the 24th minute when the referee awarded them a penalty after Claude Ndarusanze was brought down inside the box.
Selemani Ndikumana stepped up to take the spot-kick, but saw his timid effort easily saved by the goalkeeper.
Burundi had the next effort on goal in the 33rd minute as Mohamed Taghiyoullah Denna unleashed a thunderbolt from 30-yards out, but his effort went inches wide.
Three minutes later and it was the turn of El Hacen El Id to try his luck from long range, but his effort also sailed wide of goal.
The half ended 1-1.
The start of the second 45 was a little sloppy as both teams struggled to keep hold of the ball and create any decent chances on goal.
That was until the 61st minute when Christophe Nduwarugira fired Burundi in front with a powerful strike from the edge of the box that found the bottom right corner of the net, 2-1.
Mauritania, though, were not to be outdone and hit back nine minutes later as Mohamed Taghiyoullah Denna got on the end of a ball into the box to head his side level from six-yards out, 2-2.
Both teams threw men forward in attack in the final 15 minutes of the match, and just as it looked to be ending in a stalemate Selemani Ndikumana fired Burundi to victory.
With virtually the last kick of the game, Selemani Ndikumana scored one of the goals of the tournament as he drove a 35-yard thunderbolt into the top right hand corner, 3-2.
Burundi (1) 3 (Fiston Razak Abdul 11’, Christophe Nduwarugira 61’, Selemani Ndikumana 93’)
Mauritania (1) 2 (Ely Cheikh Voulany 2’, Mohamed Taghiyoullah Denna 70’)