The Gambia enjoyed a dream Africa Cup of Nations debut by beating Mauritania 1-0 in Limbe to go joint-top of Group F.
Ablie Jallow struck the winner after 10 minutes as he controlled Musa Barrow’s pass with one touch before scoring from 25 yards with his second.
Mauritania rallied strongly late in the first half but failed to seriously trouble Gambian goalkeeper Modou Jobe.
The Scorpions move level with Mali, who beat Tunisia 1-0 earlier on Wednesday.
Lying 150th, The Gambia are the lowest-ranked team at the Nations Cup in Cameroon, and next face Mali – whose victory was fuelled by controversy – on Sunday.
Scorpions provide early sting
Forty years on from first trying, and failing, to qualify for Africa’s most prestigious sporting event, The Gambia finally took their place at the top table of the continental game.
It was a proud moment for the nation of 2.5 million and especially for defender Pa Modou Jagne, the longest-serving member of the squad who made his Gambian debut back in 2006.
The 32-year-old would have wished for a dream start and it came true as Jallow showed excellent intention and technique as he lashed home left-footed, when little seemed on, to leave Mauritania goalkeeper Boubacar Diop grasping air.
The goal was reward for The Gambia’s bright start but as the first half wore on, they lost control to a Mauritania side who fashioned chances with good build-up play only for their final strikes to lack either accuracy or power.
Recent call-up Pape Ibnou Ba was busy for the Mourabitounes but failed to take advantage of the crosses that came his way as Mauritania rallied under French coach Didier Gomes Da Rosa, appointed just two months ago.
In 2019, Mauritania were in the same role as The Gambia when making their Nations Cup bow in Egypt, where they exited in the first round with no wins, one goal and two draws from their three games.
The Gambia could have wrapped up victory shortly after half-time only for Sampdoria defender Omar Colley to head wide when well-placed prior to Ebrima Colley blazing over when also in a promising position.
Musa unleashed from distance two minutes into stoppage time only for goalkeeper Diop to pull off another decent save to keep the scoreline down.
Twenty-two of the 24 teams at Afcon have now been in action, with the remaining teams – Ivory Coast and Equatorial Guinea – taking to the field in Douala in Group E on Wednesday evening.