Wilfried Zaha grabbed the only goal of the game to settle the Africa Cup of Nations last-16 clash as Ivory Coast defeat Mali 1-0 in Suez on Monday.
Crystal Palace winger Zaha ensured victory for The Elephants as he slotted home on 76 minutes to book a quarter-final showdown with Algeria.
However, the 2015 champions will need to perform much better if they aspire to a second title in four years, as Ivory Coast’s talented attack of Zaha, Nicolas Pepe and Jonathan Kodjia largely failed to add spark and fluidity to their game.
The in-demand Pepe returned for the Elephants after sitting out the 4-1 win over Namibia along with Kodjia, while Mali recalled a host of regulars having rested key players after qualifying from their group with a game to spare.
Mali were seeking a first victory over their fellow West Africans at the Cup of Nations after three losses and a draw, but Southampton recruit Moussa Djenepo stumbled as he bore in on goal at the start of the second half.
Zaha made the breakthrough with a quarter of an hour remaining when Gbohouo’s hopeful ball upfield skipped all the way through to the Palace winger who snuck the ball past Diarra.
Adama Traore created a late chance as Mali sought to send the game to extra time but his stinging drive was kept out by Gbohouo.