Bertrand Traore put in a match-winning performance as Burkina Faso beat Guinea-Bissau 2-0 to qualify for the knockout stages of the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Chelsea winger, who is currently playing his club football on loan at Ajax, had a hand in his side’s first goal and scored their second as Burkina Faso progressed from the group stage of the tournament for the third time in their history.
The opening goal came courtesy of a first-half defensive mistake by Guinea-Bissau’s Rudinilson Silva, who headed into his own goal, and the ever-dangerous Traore got his reward for an all-action performance when he scored the Stallions’ second after 57 minutes.
Guinea-Bissau were making their debut in the tournament this year and Baciro Cande’s men gave a good account of themselves as they bowed out of the competition, creating several chances to continue their sequence of scoring in each of their group games.
But Burkina Faso’s quality shone through and Paulo Duarte’s men qualify for the quarter-finals as the winners of Group A ahead of Cameroon, who drew 0-0 with hosts Gabon in Sunday’s other fixture.
Traore spurned an early chance to put Burkina Faso ahead when he was played through one-on-one with Jonas Mendes but side-footed his shot wide.
But moments later Burkina Faso took the lead when Rudinilson’s defensive header from Traore’s cross caught Mendes out and the ball was judged to have crossed the line for an own goal despite Tomas Dabo’s attempted clearance, although Prejuce Nakoulma smashed in the rebound to avoid any doubt.
The Wild Dogs did eventually show some attacking intent and Rudinilson fired over the crossbar when he had the chance to make amends for his earlier error, before Piqueti’s dangerous shot from a tight angle forced Kouakou Herve Koffi into a good reaction save that kept the Stallions ahead at half-time.
Frederic Mendy headed wide as Guinea-Bissau continued to press for an equaliser early in the second half but just as their momentum looked to be building, Burkina Faso struck again.
Aristide Bance headed the ball to Nakoulma who raced forward and squared the ball to Traore, leaving the 21-year-old to apply a cool finish and double his side’s lead.
Zezinho’s deflected free-kick was acrobatically saved by Koffi as Guinea-Bissau sought a way back into the game, and substitute Abel Camara blazed wide when Mendy sent him clean through on goal, but the Wild Dogs ultimately lacked the quality to mount a comeback.
Traore went close again in the closing stages and if he can maintain his current level of performance then Burkina Faso will have every chance of emulating their efforts at the tournament in 2013 when they went all the way to the final.
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