Mali survived the sending-off of goalkeeper Mamadou Samassa to defeat Malawi 2-0 on Sunday in their Africa Cup of Nations Group B qualifier in Bamako.
France-based Samassa was shown the red card in the second half soon after striker Bakary Sacko (pictured) from English Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers had scored for the Eagles.
Another French Ligue 1 footballer, striker Cheick Tidiane Diabate from leaders Bordeaux, assured a home victory with a stoppage-time goal.
His strike took Mali to the top of Group B on goal difference from Algeria, who defeated Ethiopia 2-1 in Addis Ababa Saturday.
Mali and Malawi were originally scheduled to play on Saturday, but torrential rain forced a 24-hour delay.
Malawi host Ethiopia on Wednesday in the second round of group matches, while Mali are away to 1990 African champions Algeria.