Edouard Mendy will contest the African Cup of Nations final after Senegal held off a late rally to defeat Burkina Faso in the last-four.

The Lions of Teranga continue their quest for redemption after losing the 2019 final to Algeria, with Mendy having missed the knockout stages of that tournament after suffering a broken finger. Senegal, who have never won AFCON, will take on either hosts Cameroon or Egypt in Sunday’s final.

An eventful contest played out between the two sides in Yaounde, the Cameroonian capital, though it took until the 70th minute for the deadlock to be broken, after which there were four goals exchanged between the two west African nations.

The first half may have lacked goalmouth action but not drama, with VAR coming to the fore to rule on two Senegalese penalty shouts.

The decision went against the 2019 runners-up on both occasions, with Burkina Faso goalkeeper Herve Koffi injuring himself in the first incident but deemed to have made enough contact with the ball before crashing into Crystal Palace midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate. A penalty awarded late in first-half added time for handball was also overturned.

Senegal, boasting the recent recipient of the FIFA Best goalkeeper award between the sticks, plus an experienced support cast including Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, were the clear favourites, but there was a lack of tempo to proceedings and a bluntness in attack.

It took until the latter stages for their persistence to pay off, albeit from a set-piece as Abdou Diallo reacted quickest in the six-yard box to turn the loose ball into the net for the long-awaited opener.

Six minutes later, it appeared to be game over when the tenacious Mane turned provider from the left, stealing possession from Issoufou Dayo on the byline and teeing up Idrissa Gueye to poke in a second.

Mendy, who missed the first two group games after testing positive for Covid-19 but has been an ever-present since, had conceded just once in three matches prior to the semi-final and so a 2-0 buffer felt robust for Aliou Cisse’s men.

The Chelsea goalkeeper remained alert having made a couple of decent interventions during the course of the game, though he could do little to react to Ibrahim Blati Toure’s instinctive finish with eight minutes remaining as the ball cannoned in off the midfielder’s knee.

In truth, Burkina Faso were unable to properly build up a head of steam before the deciding goal arrived on the counter-attack, with Mane running clear and providing a typically clinical deft finish to seal Senegal’s place in the final. Their opponents will be unveiled tomorrow when Cameroon take on Egypt in Yaounde.