Riyad Mahrez scored twice but Algeria could only draw with outsiders Zimbabwe while Senegal got the first win of the Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday.
- In keeping with an African tradition that every national football team must have a nickname, Algeria are known as the Desert Foxes and Zimbabwe as the Warriors.
Saturday's action ended in draws as hosts Gabon were held 1-1 by debutants Guinea Bissau.
Algeria then stepped up the pressure and Ramy Bensebaini headed against the bar and Elisha Muroiwa struck the frame of his own goal as he attempted to clear a Faouzi Ghoulam cross.
"We scored our second goal and we could have scored more, if it were not for the brilliant performance of the Zimbabwe goalkeeper". Leicester City's Mahrez had two of those goals for Algeria, while Liverpool's Mane struck Senegal's victor from the penalty spot.
While Mahrez saved Georges Leekens' side from a humiliating defeat, the draw was not the best start ahead of games against Tunisia and another pre-tournament favourite Senegal.
Mane came third in the African player of the year awards behind victor Mahrez and Gabon's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Mbodj struck his own bar in the second half while Ismaila Sarr almost added to Senegal's lead, hitting the frame of the goal with a cross.
Ivory Coast has much to deal with in Oyem when it opens Group C against Togo on Monday, including the threat of another upset by Togo and also a hastily built stadium and a newly laid field, both of which appear to have lost their races against time to be fully ready for the African Cup.
Zimbabwe won the only meeting between the two sides at AFCON 2014.
"Our demands were listened to", said Leopards captain Youssouf Mulumbu.
This result should not surprise many especially those who have followed past matches between Zimbabwe and North Africa sides (Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria).