Everton midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye snatched a loose ball and drove his effort into Benin’s box unmarked, placing his finish to the side of goalkeeper Saturnin Allagbe to break the deadlock in favour of Senegal in the 70th minute.
Senegal are through to the semi-finals of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations after defeating Benin 1-0 in the quarterfinals in Cairo, Egypt, on Wednesday.
The Squirrels, who are one of the surprise packages of the tournament, lived up to the expectations by holding the Teranga Lions to a goalless draw in the first half, while creating a couple of goal opportunities for themselves as well.
The trio of Keita Balde, M’Baye Niang and Sadio Mane tormented Benin defence from the flanks and middle all through the first half but defenders Olivier Verdon, Emmanuel Imorou and Moise Adilehou thwarted their efforts and kept the scoreline at 0-0 at break time.
Both teams began the second half like they ended the first, with Senegal still struggling to surmount the hermetic defensive bloc put in place by the Squirrels, who occasionally launched pacy counterattacks.
Sadio Mané had a goal disallowed by the 50th minute due to offside position, as the push for an opener intensified.
After the hour mark, Senegal’s momentum and creativity improved when Mbaye Diagne replaced M’Baye Niang, and Krepin Diatta coming in for Monaco’s Keita Balde.
A minute later, Mané’s header from a free-kick could have powered Senegal’s lead to 2-0 but it was ruled offside, once more.
Benin were reduced to 10 men with 8 minutes to fulltime when Verdon was shown a straight red card after bringing down a player near the box.
The game ended 1-0 for Senegal, who will meet in semi-finals the winner between Madagascar and Tunisia.