Les Elephants continued to show middling results in Africa Cup of Nations 2015, as a dogged Malian side scored early and then held off repeated attacks until a late goal from Max Gradel.

Fans of Equatorial Guinea cheer before their Group A soccer match against Gabon at the African Cup of Nations in Bata. (REUTERS)

Saturday’s 1-1 draw put Mali and Cote D’Ivoire tied at the top of Group D, along with the other teams in the group, Cameroon and Guinea, who themselves drew.

Mali’s Bakary Sako, who plays for the Premier League’s Wolves, exploded early, in the 7th minute, with a half-volley that rocketed past the Cote D’Ivorian keeper.

Cote D’Ivoire repeatedly either flubbed good chances, or met a stiff Malian defense, until Serge Aurier sent a sharp pass to the substituted Gradel and he hit a low shot beyond Germain Berthe.

Cameroon took an early lead with a long range goal from Benjamin Moukandjo in the 13th minute. Ibrahima Traoré responded for Guinea in the 42nd minute

The final game of Group D is set for Wednesday, with Cameroon facing Ivory Coast, and Guinea playing Mali. A win by any would send them through to knockout.

Cameroon has lifted the AFCON trophy four times but not since 2002.