Mali under-20 3-1 Bulgaria under-20: Samassékou double helps Mali end Toulon Tournament with maiden win

In a Toulon Tournament dead-rubber, Mali captain Diadie Samassékou scored in either half to lead his side to a 3-1 win over Bulgaria.

Mali under-20 3-1 Bulgaria under-20: Samassékou double helps Mali end Toulon Tournament with maiden win
Captain Diadie Samassékou scored twice l for Mali against Bulgaria in the Toulon Tournament (image via:
Mali U20
3 1
Mexico U20
Mali U20: (4-3-3) Dibatere; Traoré, Sacko, Toure (Diakité 65'), Diaby; Samassekou (C), Doumbia (Diarra 51'), Diabate; Baradji, Guilavogui (Dembélé 70'), Samabagué (Tianda 61').
Mexico U20: (4-4-2) Mihaylov; Tenev, Radev, Gamakov (C), Minkov; Malinov (Velkovski 34'), Tsonev (Nenov 42'), Rasim (Chapov 65'), Kraev; Georgiev, Despodov.
SCORE: 1-0, Samassékou 26'. 1-1 Despodov 43'. 2-1. Samasséekou 59'. 3-1 Diarra 80+4'.
REFEREE: Ulises Luis Arnaldo Mereles Abraham (PAR). Booked: Doumbia (13'), Touré (61'), Velkovski (69'), Diakité (73'), Dembélé (75').

In the penultimate Group A fixture at the Toulon Tournament, Mali's under-20 side beat their Bulgarian counterparts 3-1 to finish third in the group.

The match played at the Stade Leo Lagrange meant nothing in terms of qualification, yet pride was at stake for two sides looking for their first wins of the competition. 

Diadie Samassékou's goal in the first half gave Mali a deserved lead at the break, with the captain slotting home with aplomb past Mihail Mihaylov

Three minutes into the second half, Bulgaria's biggest threat Kiril Despodov drew the sides level, after slotting the ball under Ousmane Dibatére in the Mali goal. 

Kiril Despodov was a constant threat for Bulgaria (image via:

Samasskékou then doubled his tally for the game with a header, before Souleymane Diarra added the finishing touches to win with a goal in the fourth added minute.

Sambagué assist just rewards after dominant opening

Mali's youngsters came out of the blocks the faster of the two sides, creating a number of early half-chances on the back of strong work from Nianankoro Doumbia and Mamadou Sambagué. Much of the pressure was coming down the right-wing, with Sambagué linking up well with right-back Baba Traoré on a number of occassions. 

The Europeans then came into the game more following Doumbia's yellow card, with Bozhidar Kraev and Bekir Rasim both forcing good saves from Dibatére in the Mali goal. 

The deadlock was then finally broken in the 26th minute following another attack from Mali down the right-side. Traoré beat his man before slipping Sambagué in behind, with the winger then pulling the ball back to the edge of the box, allowing his skipper Samassékou to run onto it, before slotting the ball home into the top corner. 

The remainder of the first-half saw Bulgarian striker Kiril Despodov bring himself into the game more, making a number of surging runs in behind the Mali defence but all was to no avail as they went in 1-0 down. 

Despodov's smart finish draws Bulgaria level

Moments into the second half, Antoni Zdravkov decided to make his second change of the match, bringing on Yulian Nenov for Borislan Tsonev, and it bought instant impact. Nenov's ball to Kraev allowed the midfielder to bound through the Mali midfield before slipping the ball on to Despodov who fired the ball under the keeper to draw the sides level. 

The goal was nothing less than the Europeans deserved after reacting well to Samassékou's opener, with Despodov in particular leading the charge and handing Bulgaria their first goal of the tournament in their fourth outing. 

Samassékou heads winner as Africans claim third spot

Following changes from both sides, a well-worked free-kick by Mali led to a shot on the edge of the box from Samassékou which was well pushed behind by Mihaylov after he'd sighted the shot late. 

The resulting corner led to the game's pivotal moment, with Samassékou getting the run on his defender before placing his header into the bottom corner of the net for a 2-1 lead on the hour mark. 

Diarra adds gloss to the win with final kick of the game

More changes from either manager made the game fragmented in the final quarter, with the referee's yellow card also being handed out frequently as the game headed towards the finish.  

Galin Minkov went closest to forcing an equaliser for Bulgaria in the 80th minute, before Mali added a third goal with the final kick of the game to confirm the victory. A long ball over the top saw the ball land in no man's land between defenders and the goalkeeper, and with neither taking charge of the situation, Souleymane Diarra stole in to grab the loose ball before rounding Mihaylov and smashing home, with the final whistle blaring just seconds later.