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Equatorial Guinea inflict humiliating defeat on Ivory Coast to leave hosts on the brink

Equatorial Guinea scored three late goals to secure a stunning victory.
Host nation Ivory Coast’s presence in the tournament is hanging by a thread, as they lost a second successive Group A match at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), going down 4-0 to group winners Equatorial Guinea in Abidjan. The Ivorians must now wait to see if they will go through as one of the four best third-placed teams.

After defeat to Nigeria on Thursday, Les Éléphants needed a big response and they dominated the early territory, putting plenty of balls into the Equatoguinean box, but could not create a real chance until the 30th minute, when Christian Kouamé brought the ball down before Nicolas Pépé took control and evaded a challenge, but could not quite take the ball around goalkeeper Jesús Owono.

The Ivorians’ shyness in front of goal was punished on 42 minutes, when Carlos Akapo was allowed to drive into the area and play a low pass across to Emilio Nsue, who added to his hat-trick against Guinea-Bissau by rolling the ball into the net to give Equatorial Guinea the lead in front of a stunned crowd.

Ivory Coast thought they had drawn level on the stroke of HT. However, Ibrahim Sangaré was flagged offside when he tucked in a knockdown from Kouamé.

Flying out of the blocks after the restart, the Ivory Coast again thought they had equalised through Sangaré, but the Nottingham Forest man somehow blasted over from just three yards out.

As the match entered its final quarter, the Ivorians were again denied an equaliser by VAR, after Jean-Philippe Krasso turned and finished neatly inside the box, only for replays to show he was offside.

To compound their misery, Equatorial Guinea then scored a second just minutes later, when Pablo Ganet curled a 25-yard free-kick into the top corner.

With nothing to lose and their evening in tatters, the Ivory Coast got caught on the counter-attack as they threw bodies forward from the restart, allowing José Machín to pick out Nsue in the box to score his fifth of the tournament.

The Ivorians failed even to find a consolation against Juan Micha’s men, who kept up their record of reaching the knockout stage of every AFCON in which they have featured in style, grabbing a fourth through Jannick Buyla’s rebound.

Nigeria’s win over Guinea-Bissau at least secured third place for Ivory Coast, but with three points and a minus three goal difference, Jean-Louis Gasset’s side may require a few miracles to progress.