Moussa Djenepo opened the scoring as Mali cruised into the World Cup play-offs with a 3-0 victory in Rwanda.
Knowing victory would secure their place in the play-offs with one group game to spare, the Eagles’ task was made easier by the dismissal of Rwanda’s Djihad Bizimana inside the first 10 minutes of the match.
Mali duly took full advantage by scoring twice in two minutes midway through the first half, as Djenepo registered his third international goal before Ibrahima Koné quickly doubled the lead.
Djenepo was replaced at half-time, with his work already done, before Kalifa Coulibaly wrapped up the victory with a late third.
It means Mali have definitely secured top spot in Group E ahead of second-placed Uganda, meaning Sunday’s encounter between the pair is no longer decisive.
Djenepo and his compatriots will be drawn against one of the other nine group winners in March’s two-legged play-offs, sending five African nations to next year’s World Cup in Qatar.