Angola finally got their first goals in FIFA World Cup qualifying, breaking out in a major way to defeat Gabon 3-1 at home on Friday in FIFA World Cup qualifying. The result moves the Palancas Negras out of the Group F basement and keeps them mathematically in the hunt for top spot in the group. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Gabon are on the verge of elimination and must win in the return fixture at home to maintain any faint hope of qualification.
Gabon manager Patrice Neveu attempted to remedy his side’s defensive woes by starting midfielders Didier Ndong and Mario Lemina as a center back pairing, but defensive issues once again cost Les Panthères on the road. A promising start for the visitors that saw Denis Bouanga create some danger for the Angolan defense was dampened by a poor concession in the 25th minute. Angola forward Ary Papel had the ball tackled away from him in the Gabonese half, but the loose ball inadvertently sent attacking midfielder Zini in on goal, where he sent an excellent finish into the roof of Anthony Mfa Mezui’s goal to send a frenetic Angolan crowd into celebration.
The hosts held on until halftime and were content to let Denis Bouanga attempt long range efforts while keeping Aubameyang unusually quiet on the day. Gabon regrouped and came out with intent after the break but once again another defensive error spoiled the comeback effort. A 56th minute corner kick from veteran Angola attacker Fredy saw Gabon’s André Biyogo Poko attempt to head clear, but instead he could only flick the service to the far post where Ary Papel could not believe his fortune as he was on hand to apply the easy finish.
Late on Gabon finally got a reward for hard work on the attack when Bouanga’s 83rd minute corner was headed off the post by Lloyd Palun, the ball ricocheting back to an open Axel Meye for the substitute to finish with a tap in from close range. Meye had another chance five minutes later to equalize, but could not get enough power on his header from a floated cross to trouble Palancas Negras keeper Hugo Marques.
In a fitting ending, it was poor marking and defending that allowed Angola to put the match away late on when Fredy once again sent a dangerous corner kick in that found Jonathan Buatu, the Sint Truiden defender heading his shot through Mfa Mezui and the ball just going over the line before Johann Obiang could clear. Highlights of the Angola win are in the link below.
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