Afcon roundup: hosts Ivory Coast near exit after Equatorial Guinea’s shock win | Africa Cup of Nations 2023

Africa Cup of Nations 2023

  • Equatorial Guinea top Group A after stunning 4-0 victory
  • Nigeria through in second after beating Guinea-Bissau 1-0

PA Media

Mon 22 Jan 2024 21.20 CET

The Africa Cup of Nations hosts Ivory Coast are on the brink of a humiliating exit from their own tournament after a shock 4-0 defeat by Equatorial Guinea.

Two more goals from Emilio Nsue, the hat-trick hero from the win against Guinea-Bissau, and strikes from Pablo Ganet and Jannick Buyla left the Elephants with only a slim chance of qualifying after finishing third in Group A.

Three points means they are unlikely to be one of the four third-placed teams to get through – they face an agonising wait until the final group-stage games on Wednesday.

Equatorial Guinea were confirmed as surprise group winners ahead of the three-time champions Nigeria, who beat Guinea-Bissau 1-0.

Ivory Coast had two goals disallowed for offside and snatched at a host of presentable chances, and they were made to pay. They could have had a penalty when Nicolas Pépé burst into the area after a long ball over the top fell at his feet and he was clearly fouled by Saúl Coco. Pépé opted to stay on his feet but was unable to round Equatorial Guinea’s goalkeeper, Jesús Owono, and the opportunity went begging.

The hosts were then stunned three minutes before half-time when Carlos Akapo surged past four nonexistent tackles into the area and squared the ball for Nsue. The former Birmingham and Middlesbrough full-back, now 34 and captaining his country, swept the ball home first time.

Ivory Coast thought they had hit back immediately when Ibrahim Sangare bundled the ball into the net from Pépé’s cross but VAR confirmed the Nottingham Forest midfielder was offside.

In the 67th minute Jean-Philippe Krasso took Seko Fofana’s pass in his stride and the Ivorian curled the ball past Owono, but once again VAR stepped in and the goal was chalked off.

Six minutes later Ganet silenced the Alassane Ouattara Stadium with a curling free-kick which flew into the top corner. The hosts’ fate was then all but sealed when, in the 75th minute, José Machin led a counterattack and teed up Nsue for a simple finish. The stunning result was then complete two minutes from time when Buyla lashed home the fourth.

Nigeria’s Moses Simon (centre) is congratulated for his whipped cross that Opa Sanganté was unable to avoid putting into his own goal. Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

An own-goal from Guinea-Bissau’s Opa Sanganté gifted Nigeria the narrow victory that sealed second place and a spot in the last 16.

The Super Eagles went ahead after 36 minutes following a stroke of misfortune for Sanganté – Moses Simon whipped in a dangerous cross intended for Victor Osimhen and Sanganté smashed the ball into the roof of his own net.

Nigeria had a great chance to double the lead just before half-time as an unmarked Osimhen headed wide and they threatened again two minutes into the second half when Jonas Mendes smothered Simon’s shot. The Napoli forward Osimhen also had an effort ruled out for offside.

Guinea-Bissau threatened in the final 10 minutes when Fali Candé’s free-kick took an awkward bounce, but the Nigerian goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali managed to push it wide before Gomes headed wide from the resulting corner. The late pressure almost paid off as a ferocious strike from Franculino Djú was ruled out for offside and Nigeria managed to see the game out.

This story will be updated

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