Pablo Ganet’s strike secured a 1-0 win over Sierra Leone as Equatorial Guinea joined Ivory Coast in reaching the Africa Cup of Nations knockout stages from Group E.
These two teams knew a win in Limbe would take them through to the next round, and Equatorial Guinea had been knocking on the door before the breakthrough goal arrived, with Iban Salvador seeing a shot cleared off the line.
The decisive strike came from a clever free-kick routine in the 38th minute, with two passes freeing Ganet for a free shot from the edge of the penalty area. With nobody tracking him, Ganet smashed an accurate shot just inside the right post.
Steven Caulker went close for Sierra Leone with a header early in the second half that bounced a foot wide of the left post, before Dorian Hanza squandered a chance to double Equatorial Guinea’s lead, firing way over from close range.
Sierra Leone then had a lifeline when they were awarded an 85th-minute penalty as Ganet sent Issa Kallon to the deck, but Kamara’s spot-kick was pushed behind by Jesus Owono.
Losing their composure as hopes of a comeback slipped away, Sierra Leone had Kwame Quee sent off late on for a second bookable offence, a wild and late challenge on Ganet. A stoppage-time penalty award to Equatorial Guinea was overturned when VAR indicated Salvador had been fouled just inches outside the box, and by that point the game had got away from Sierra Leone, who are out.
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