A brace from Alain Traore (his second and third goal of the tournament) helped Burkina Faso to claim their first win in the African Cup of Nations for 15 years when their Group C match against Ethiopia at the Mbombela Stadium on Friday night finished 4-0.
Djakaridja Kone and Jonathan Pitroipa grabbed the third and fourth goals for the Stallions in a win that now sees them top the group ahead of Nigeria and Zambia who drew 1-1 earlier in the day.
The first 45 minutes was an eye pleasing spectacle as both teams played free-flowing entertaining football. The passing was swift and accurate and the game played at a high pace as the action moved from end to end.
Sadly, though it will be a stanza Ethiopia will want to forget as they saw two of their players leave the field before the half time whistle due to injury and also went into the half time break a goal down.
Ethiopia certainly started brightly, however, and were bitterly unlucky not to take the lead as early as the fourth minute.
A nice interchange of passes on the counter-attack saw Said Saladin play Shemeles Bekele through on goal with a clever back-heel. Bekele, though, wasted the one-on-one opportunity with the keeper as he saw his effort beat the goal-minder, but strike the right-hand post and bounce away from danger.
The Walya Antelopes then suffered their first set back in the 11th minute when Adane Grima had to leave the field with an injured groin muscle – his departure accompanied with tears for one of the saddest moments of the tournament.
While Ethiopia started the brighter of the two sides, as the half progressed Burkina Faso grew stronger and had a goal disallowed in the 21st minute.
Charles Kabore let fly with a thunderbolt from roughly 25-yards which the Walya Antelopes’ keeper failed to hold onto, allowing Wilfried Sanou to pounce on the loose ball, toe-poking it into the back of the net, but he was correctly ruled off-sides.
In the 34th minute, however, the Stallions found the back of the net again and this time the goal did count.
A superb pass over the top of the Ethiopian defence by Kabore saw Alain Traore through on goal and he made no mistake with just the keeper to beat, powerfully firing the ball into the top left-hand corner from 12-yards out, 1-0.
Two minutes before the break the Walya Antelopes suffered yet another set-back as Asrat Megersa also had to leave the field after suffering a knock to his knee.
The second 45 was not as fluid as the first, but it was certainly not absent of controversy as the Burkina Faso goalie was shown a red card in the 60th minute.
Abdoulaye Soulama appeared to handle the ball outside of the box; it was a close call by the linesman who flagged for the indiscretion, but the right one nonetheless. The referee had no option but to show the goalie a straight red even if it was bit of a tough call on the Stallions.
After that, Ethiopia tried to apply pressure on the Burikna Faso goal, but it was at the other end where we saw goals.
In the 74th minute, Traore found his second of the night with one of the goals of the tournament. The ball almost burst the back of the net as he struck a wicked 30-yard shot that found the top left-hand corner of the goal, 2-0.
Five minutes later and Djakaridja Kone put the result beyond doubt when he found the Stallions third goal.
The goal was set-up by Traore in the middle of the park as he won the ball and set his side on the counter-attack which resulted in Jonathan Pitroipa playing Kone through on goal and he made no mistake with a clinical finish, 3-0.
The icing on the cake was a 95th minute goal for Burkina Faso as Pitroipa grabbed the fourth goal after being put through on goal by Balima, 4-0.
That is how the match ended as Burkina Faso picked up their first win in an AFCON tournament since 1998 and now top Group C.