Senegal capped off a successful 2018 World Cup qualification campaign with a last-gasp 2-1 win over Group D rivals South Africa in Dakar on Tuesday night.
The match at the Stade Leopold Sedar Senghor was merely academic, with the Teranga Lions having already secured a place at Russia 2018 by winning 2-0 in Polokwane at the weekend, but still saw Bafana Bafana put in a much improved performance.
However, they were denied what would have been a creditable draw when Kara Mbodji scored a header with virtually the last action of the match, deep in injury time.
The start of the match was delayed by a few minutes as the stadium floodlights failed just before the scheduled kick off. South Africa created an early chance for Morgan Gould when he got onto a knock-down from Clayton Daniels but could only volley over the target.
South Africa were generally happy to sit back and look to hit on the counter attack, with the pace and skill of Percy Tau providing a good outlet, though too often the Mamelodi Sundowns man was left isolated.
Yet Tau still managed to tee up the best chance of the first half, chesting the ball to meet the movement of Sibusiso Vilakazi, who was denied by a fine reaction save from Senegal goalkeeper Alfred Gomis in the 37th minute.
Senegal upped their game in the second half and claimed the lead 10 minutes after the restart. SA goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune rashly sprinted off his line to try and pressure Moussa Sow, but his action only allowed Opa Nguette to coolly chip the ball into an empty net.
Bafana Bafana had a great chance to equalise in the 63rd minute after Senegal defender Youssouf Sabaly was guilty of clumsy challenge in the box to give away a penalty. Themba Zwane took the spot kick, but directed his effort wide of Gomis’ right-hand post.
Yet just two minutes later the visitors equalised through a great counter-attack goal: Khune released the ball quickly to find Keagan Dolly, who teed up Tau to score with a low, left-footed shot into the bottom corner of the net, 1-1.
Senegal created a couple of good chances to reclaim the lead from set pieces, the second of which saw towering defender Kara Mbodji rattle the crossbar with a powerful header in the 74th minute.
That effort proved to be a warning that SA did not heed, as in the third and final minute of injury time Mbodji directed a superb header beyond the reach of Khune to clinch a 2-1 win and set off wild celebrations in Dakar.
Senegal (0) 2 (Nguette 55’, Mbodji 90+3’)
South Africa (0) 1 (Tau 65’)
Senegal: Gomis, Kouyate, Mbodji, Gueye, Sow, Niang (Ciss 73’), Nguette, Sabaly, A. Ndiaye (Diousse 88’), P. Ndiaye (Ndoye 80’), Wague
South Africa: Khune, Mkhize, Daniels, Gould, Hlanti, Furman, Zungu, Zwane (Jali 71’), Vilakazi (Manyama 84’), Dolly, Tau