Tuesday Sep 10, 2019. 20:36
French-born striker Joseph Mendes scored twice as Guinea Bissau came from a goal down to edge past Sao Tome e Principe 2-1 in Bissau on Tuesday and secure their place in the group phase of the African World Cup qualifiers.
It meant a 3-1 aggregate triumph in the battle of the two Portuguese-speaking countries after a disputed penalty had handed Guinea Bissau a 1-0 away victory in the first leg of their first round tie.
But Guinea Bissau, who have been to the last two Africa Cup of Nations finals, were in danger of a shock exit until well past the hour mark in Tuesday’s return match after Sao Tome took a surprisw early lead.
Iniesta reacted quickest after a spilled save by Jonas Mendes to put Sao Tome ahead in the 11th minute and level the aggregate scoreline.
It was only the fifth ever World Cup goal for the small island nation.
Guinea Bissau squandered numerous chances before Mendes, who plays for AC Ajaccio in Ligue 2, equalised from close range in the 66th minute to the obvious relief of the home fans.
That put ‘Djurtus’ 2-1 ahead on aggregate but another powerful finish from Mendes some 11 minutes later made sure of their progress.
Guinea Bissau are through to the group phase for the first time, having lost in six successive preliminary knockout ties since first entering World Cup qualification for the 1998 final in France.
Tuesday’s win was only their third in World Cup qualifiers over the last two decades.