Burkina Faso completed the most comprehensive victory so far in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations when they defeated Ethiopia 4-0 in Nelspruit on Friday night.
The Burkinabe simply had too much class for their opponents, who had their moments in the game, but faded badly in the final quarter.
Paul Put’s side even managed to complete the match a man down after a deserved sending-off for goalkeeper Abdoulaye Soulama. This says a lot about their resilience in this tournament, having also managed a last-gasp draw with Nigeria in their opening match.
Burkina Faso have made it out of the group stages only once before, when they hosted the tournament in 1998 and finished fourth. Their seven other visits to the continental showpiece have all ended in first-round exits.
This win, achieved with great counter-attacking play and two wonderful goals from star striker Alain Traore, has put them on the brink of improving that record.
Traore, who plays for Lorient in France’s Ligue 1, is fast emerging as one of the stars of this tournament with two eye-catching displays so far.
"This is great for our confidence. Once we scored it acted as a release for the players,” Burkina Faso coach Paul Put said. "What we showed when it was 10 versus 11 proves that mentally we are very strong and that's a good sign.”
The Burkinabe need just to avoid defeat in their final Group C clash with Zambia on Tuesday to advance to the next stage, though they could also lose and still go through if Nigeria fail to beat Ethiopia.
The Ethiopians have been unlucky in both their matches to date, but still have one last chance for redemption. They must beat Nigeria and hope that Burkina Faso hold Zambia to at least a draw.
The loss through injury early on in this match of Ethiopia's goalscorer from the draw with Zambia, Adane Girma, was a real blow, but they still put in a good account of themselves.
Neither side was helped by the Nelspruit pitch, which has suffered with heavy rains this summer that has caused a fungus to grow. It is not up to standard for the competition, but at this stage there is very little that organisers can do but to play on.