Equatorial Guinea turned on the style to open up Thursday’s slate of matches at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations with an efficient offensive performance in their 4-2 Group A victory over Guinea-Bissau in Abidjan. Nzalang striker and captain Emilio Nsue scored the first hat-trick at the competition since 2008 to move his team up to four points from two matches and put their opponents on the verge of elimination. Equatorial Guinea wrap up the group stage against hosts Ivory Coast on Monday while Guinea-Bissau need to defeat Nigeria to have any faint hope of advancing to the Round of 16.
With West African giants Nigeria and Ivory Coast in the group this match was crucial for both teams who had their eyes on obtaining the full three points. The opening twenty minutes was a stalemate but the action began to pick up and slight favorites Equatorial Guinea drew first blood in the 21st minute. Midfielder Pablo Ganet’s pass bounced towards the Bissau-Guinean penalty area and Nsue sweeped in to touch the ball past left back Fali Candé before applying the finish past Djurtus goalkeeper Ouparine Djoco.
The urgency increased for Guinea-Bissau who found a way back into the match in the 37th minute after a switch of play to the right wing found Mauro Rodrigues whose cross set up an own goal by Nzalang defender Esteban Orozco. Less than ninety seconds later it appeared that Guinea-Bissau were set to completely reverse the match when Franculino Djú was tripped in the penalty area but after a penalty kick was awarded VAR reversed the call.
Less than a minute into the second half a defensive meltdown left Guinea-Bissau once again with a deficit they would never recover from. A goal kick bounced into the Djurtus penalty area where the defense failed to clear, allowing Josete Miranda to collect and fire past Djoco. Five minutes later Nsue doubled his tally when Djoco missed his attempt to play a Basilio Ndong cross and the captain stretched to tap in.
Ten minutes later the match was out of reach for Guinea-Bissau after the Djurtus defense was exposed once again. An incisive pass from Iban Edú found the well timed run of Nsue where he went around Djoco to convert into an empty net. A late push from Guinea-Bissau made the score respectable with substitute Zé Turbo’s stoppage time goal but it was too little too late for the Djurtus whose defensive breakdowns spoiled any hopes of a victory.
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