Bata - Host nation Equatorial Guinea have reached the quarter-final
stages of AFCON 2015 after stunning Gabon 2-0 in their Group A clash on Sunday
night in Bata.
Javier Balboa scored first from the penalty spot before
substitute Ivan Salvador added the second.
It is the first time that Equatorial Guinea have reached the
quarterfinal stage for the first time since 1992 and it was no surprise to see
the jam-packed stadium erupt after the final whistle.
The match started in a very tense fashion with strong tackles
going in all around the field. But it soon began to open up and the scoring
chances started to come.
The host nation had the first chance on goal in the 8th
minute when Javier Balboa’s free kick flew over the crossbar.
In the 20th minute Gabon star Pierre Aubamyenag should have
netted when he got onto the end of a great cross to power a header goalwards,
but Felipe Ovono made a good save.
Nine minutes later the impressive Felipe Ovono made another
good save. This time he denied Biyogo Poko from close range.
Six minutes into the second half and Felipe Ovono again made
an important save, this time tipping over Frederic Bulot's curling free-kick.
Finally the opening goal came when Balboa made a clever run
into the danger area in the 53rd minute and was tripped on his way through by
Balboa took the penalty himself and made no mistake,
powering the ball past Didier Ovono.
But Gabon came close to an equaliser in the 58th minute when
Bulot got onto the end of a cross by Aubameyang. Bulot was leaning back though
and sent the ball over the crossbar.
In the 77th minute Balboa should have got his second goal of
the night when he had just the keeper to beat, but somehow his shot was kept
out by Ovono’s legs.
The second goal came when substitute Ivan Salvador pounced
in the 86th minute to net the rebound after Emilio Nsue’s shot was saved
following a cross by Balboa.