Striker Julio Tavares headed home the winner as Cape Verde Islands shrugged off their Covid-19 woes to beat 10-man Ethiopia 1-0 on the opening day of the Africa Cup of Nations.
Tavares forced home a diving header after a superb cutback pass from Garry Rodrigues on the stroke of half-time at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde as the Cape Verdians joined hosts Cameroon on top of the Group A standings.
Cape Verde were forced to start the match without coach Bubista, in quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus, and had just six substitutes on the bench, with a further nine players isolating, and two injured.
But Ethiopia made their task easier when defender Yared Bayeh was sent off after 10 minutes.
He tripped Tavares from behind with the Cape Verde striker bearing down on goal and Angolan referee Helder Martins, having initially cautioned Bayeh, changed his mind after reviewing his decision on the pitchside VAR screen.
Ethiopia gamely fought on despite the disadvantage of being a man down, and looked to be taking a psychological boost into the break by managing to hold Cape Verde at bay, before Tavares’ brave finish from close range.
Just minutes earlier, Ethiopia had a chance to be first on the scoresheet when Abubeker Nasir intercepted a poor back pass from Irish-born Roberto Lopes but goalkeeper Marcio Rosa, winning only his third cap, was quickly off his line to smother the opportunity.
Ethiopia, who were the first team to arrive in Cameroon for the tournament a fortnight ago, are one of the few countries at the finals not hampered by Covid-19 infections.
Cameroon face Ethiopia at the Olembe Stadium on Thursday at 4pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League.
In the other Group A fixture, Burkina Faso take on Cape Verde at 7pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League.
The Africa Cup of Nations tournament will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in January and February.
The tournament, originally scheduled to be played in June and July 2021, will be played in Cameroon between January 9 and February 6, 2022, with Sky Sports showing all 52 games live.