Naby Keita’s wondergoal for Guinea could not prevent them from losing their final Africa Cup of Nations group game, but the Liverpool midfielder’s nation have sneaked through to the last-16
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- 20:23, 18 Jan 2022
- Updated20:44, 18 Jan 2022
Naby Keita scored a wondergoal for Guinea as they made it through to the Africa Cup of Nations knockout stages, despite losing their final group game.
The Liverpool midfielder netted a sensational consolation strike to make it 2-1 against already-eliminated Zimbabwe, driving through the opposition's defence from wide and unleashing a left-footed shot which flashed into goalkeeper Talbert Shumba's top right-hand corner.
Keita's nation clinched second place courtesy of their two previous results and Malawi's goalless draw with Senegal on Tuesday, meaning they will now compete in the round-of-16.
But Guinea's captain, Keita, will not feature in their last-16 tie due to suspension, picking up his second yellow card in as many games in the 90th minute.
The 26-year-old was booked by referee Salima Mukansanga, the first ever woman to officiate a game at the tournament.
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Keita scored a screamer as Guinea went through
Zimbabwe captain Knowledge Musona and midfielder Kudakwashe Mahachi both scored in the first half to give Norman Mapeza's side a shock win, ending their 14-game winless run which stretched back almost a year.
Malawi were level with Guinea on four points but Keita and co finished second based on their head-to-head result – a 1-0 win last Monday.
With Sadio Mane 's Senegal also progressing, the pair will now definitely miss Liverpool's trip to Crystal Palace on Sunday, which they had an outside chance of featuring in if their countries were sent home from Cameroon.
After the Reds' 3-0 win at home to Brentford on Sunday, manager Jurgen Klopp wished Mane and Keita the best of luck alongside Egypt superstar Mohamed Salah.
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"It's completely normal [the three players leaving for AFCON mid-season]. We knew it would happen when the boys went away. It's really helpful the result today to calm these discussions down a little bit," said Klopp.
"You're right [to ask about them], I understand the thoughts behind it but they are not here so we don't talk about the boys who are not in.
"We find ways to break the opponents down. We wish the boys in Africa the best of luck.
"We were celebrating when Mo scored last night and Sadio the other day. We wish all of them to win the tournament which unfortunately is impossible."
Keita cost Liverpool £54million from RB Leipzig in 2018 but ex-Reds right-back Glen Johnson believes the midfielder has not lived up to his reputation.
Keita has struggled to live up to his £54m price tag in three-and-a-half years at Liverpool
"He arrived at Liverpool with a massive reputation but sadly he hasn’t really lived up to it currently," Johnson told bettingodds.com.
"I still think he’s a good player and he’s certainly a good squad player but he’s never been a player consistently in their starting XI.
"If they could agree a deal to sell Keita and then get someone like Yves Bissouma in as a replacement, then that would probably be good business.
"With big signings like Keita you want them to be banging the door down rather than accepting a role as a squad player."
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