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Mali got its World Cup campaign off to a flying start with a comprehensive 4-0 win over Gambia. Les Aigles never looked to allow Gambia into the game as the Malian midfielders monopolized possession all game.
Bordeaux striker Cheick Diabate broke the deadlock in the 39th minute after latching onto an awful backpass from Gambian defender Ousman Koli. Diabate went one-on-one with keeper Christopher Allen before slotting the ball through Allen's legs to open the scoring.
Despite mounting pressure from Mali, Gambia hung on to the 0-1 scoreline heading into the half. Gambia came out of the tunnel and pressed more thoroughly to start the second half, with striker Momodou Ceesay rattling the bar with a header off Mustapha Jarju's corner.
For all of Gambia's second-half pressure, they couldn't find an equalizer, and found themselves 2-0 down in the 63rd minute. Mali keeper Soumbeila Diakite made a routine save from Ceesay's tame shot and quickly found Abdou Traore out on the wing.
The midfielder sent a long ball toward West Ham striker Modibo Maiga, who settled the ball with his chest out of the path of onrushing defender Mamadou Denso. One brilliant chip over Allen later and Mali were 2-0 up.
Mali found their third goal in the 76th minute through Queens Park Rangers midfielder Samba Diakite who, after a beautiful give-and-go with captain Seydou Keita, curled the ball around the hapless Allen into the far right side netting.
And in the 90th minute, Mali compounded its opponents' misery by getting a fourth, last-minute goal through left-back Adama Tamboura. The defender waltzed down the left flank, cut inside the Gambia defense and rifled a shot past Allen's near post.
Predictable, comprehensive first win for Mali; dejection for Gambia.