Burkina Faso assumed pole position in Group C at the ongoing 2013 Africa Cup of Nations after a convincing 4-0 win over Ethiopia in an entertaining contest played on Friday.
Two goals either side of the break from Alaine Traore, a third from Yusuf Kone ten minutes to full time and Jonathan Pitroipa’s fourth in added time, ensured the west Africans bagged their first win of the competition, a result that almost ensures the Stallions a quarter-final berth and places the east Africans on the brink of elimination.
Burkina Faso now lead the Group standings after garnering 4 points from 2 games, while Nigeria and Zambia who drew 1-1 in the earlier match are joint second with two points apiece. The Walya Antelopes are last, having garnered a point against Zambia in their opening game.
Ethiopia were full of running during the opening exchanges of this duel, dubbed the 'battle of the underdogs' and took only four minutes to create the first goal scoring opportunity.
A well worked move that stretched almost the entire length of the Mbombela pitch, and aided by a cheeky flick from Basseba in the final third, provided a clear cut chance for Bekele, whose goal bound shot flew past a hapless Soulama, but was stopped by the upright.
The east Africans were at it again four minutes later. When Soulama was caught napping by a back pass from Koulibaly, a combination of Kabore and Kone, however, proved enough to save the Stallions from conceding.
Traore, who had been preferred to start this match ahead of Moumoni Dagano, responded with a shot from outside the danger zone after 10 minutes, which however, failed to trouble Ethiopia's second choice custodian Tadelle.
A minute later, Sewnet Bishaw was forced into a substitution for the second consecutive match after an injury to dependable striker Adane Girma saw the Saint George player walk off in tears with Behailu Assefa coming on as his replacement.
The Stallions then upped the ante, with Kabare’s dangerous drive saved by Tadelle, the rebound from Traore found the back of the net but was ruled out for offside.
The Walya Antelopes seemed to tire as the first stanza wore on and the 1998 Afcon hosts seized the initiative by grabbing the lead with ten minutes to the break.
An initial shot by Bance was cleared off the line by Tesfaye, but went as far as Kabore, whose invented flick found the unmarked Traore. The FC Lorient forward then thumped a fierce shot that found its way to the top left corner of Tadelle’s net.
Bishaw was then forced to make a second change just before the teams headed to the dressing room, with Yared Zinabura coming in for the injured Megresa.
Ethiopia, who are making a comeback to the continental showpiece after three decades in the cold, were the better of the two teams in the opening minutes of the second half yet again, but failed to carve out a meaningful goal threat.
The Antelopes coach Bishaw threw his last dice, by replacing Bekele with Getanah Kebede on 55 minutes. Ethiopia were presented with an opportunity to level matters at the hour mark following a moment of madness from the Burkinabe custodian Abdoulaye Soulama.
The Asante Kotoko keeper handled what seemed a harmless shot just outside the box forcing Seychelles referee Bernard Camille to give him his marching orders. The west Africans technical bench then sacrificed Wilfred Sanou for reserve keeper, Diakate Daouda. Daouda then saved the resultant free kick from Asseffal.
Against all odds, however, the ten-man Burkina Faso stretched their lead. A neat flick on by Pitropia saw the ball fall calmly to Traore who left fly a vicious volley into the Ethiopian net for the second goal of the match and his third goal in two games.
Five minutes later, the ten man West Africans sealed the contest through Kone's well taken goal on the break that gave Tadelle no chance.
And coach Paul Put's charges were not finished yet as five minutes into injury time, Pitropia capped a memorable evening for the 1998 semi-finalists by sweeping home from close range an inch perfect right wing cross by Kabore.