Ghana beat host amid violence to make Afcon finals

Ghana won 3-0 in the Africa Cup of Nations semifinal to end a dream run for host Equatorial Guinea amid unsettling crowd scenes in Malabo.

Tempers flared as Ghana sealed a 3-0 Africa Cup of Nations semifinal win to end fairytale tournament for host Equatorial Guinea in Malabo.

Equatorial Guinea, ranked 118th in the world by FIFA, wasnamed as a late replacement host for Morocco and beat the odds to reach the knockout stage. The team did so again in a controversial quarterfinal triumph over Tunisia, but four-time champion Ghana proved too tough an obstacle as emotions reached an unsavory boiling point in the stands.

Ghana had to do without star striker Asamoah Gyan because of a hip injury but his replacement Jordan Ayew gave the Black Stars a 42nd-minute lead from the penalty spot after Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper Felipe Ovono fouled Kwesi Appiah.

Mubarak Wakaso doubled the advantage in the closing moment of the first half before Avram Grant’s team had to be shielded by police from objects thrown from the crowd.

The home players pleaded for calm in the stands before the resumption but were unable to negotiate a way back into the match as Andre Ayew sealed victory and a final spot against Ivory Coast with his third goal of the tournament.

Chaos descended again as the game entered its closing stages. A delay of more than half an hour came as more objects were thrown and a large number of Ghana supporters fled the stands, gathered behind the advertising hoardings, as a proud night for Equatorial Guinea ended in unfortunate ignominy.

The game had started with Equatorial Guinea looking to impress, with semifinal hero Javier Balboa coming close before the attacker’s free kick presented captain Emilio Nsue with a chance he could not convert.

The host was offered further encouragement when Wakaso was muscled off the ball by Iban — only for referee Eric Arnaud Otogo-Castane to halt his charge toward goal by awarding a free kick to spare the Ghana midfielder.

Ovono thwarted a number of first-half attacks by charging quickly from his line but the goalkeeper’s ambition got the better of him as he clattered into Appiah on the end of Christian Atsu’s measured through ball.

Otogo-Castane had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Jordan Ayew slotted home before Ghana doubled the misery for a boisterous home crowd in first-half stoppage time.

Andre Ayew sent Atsu charging clear on the break down the left channel and he cut the ball back for Wakaso to calmly take a touch and drill a low finish. Unfortunately, Ghana’s exit from the field would not be so straightforward.

Ghana should have given itself further breathing space 10 minutes into the second half, but Andre Ayew was unable to connect from close range when John Boye knocked a free kick back across goal. Appiah then sprung the offside trap but Ovono was, seemingly inevitably, out quickly to save.

The familiar sight of Ovono on the charge was seen again in the 75th minute, although Appiah retrieved the second ball on this occasion and fed Andre Ayew to slot beyond a keeper scrambling for his ground.

The goal signaled the end of a memorable run by Esteban Becker’s team but sparked further anger on the field, which saw the game delayed.

Ghana’s players remained calm throughout and were able to celebrate after playing out a token three minutes upon the game’s resumption to seal their final place.


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