E. Guinea, Congo for quarters

JAVIER Balboa’s controversial second-half penalty fired hosts Equatorial Guinea on course for a 2-0 victory that put them through to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations at the expense of Gabon.

Esteban Becker’s men knew only a win at Estadio de Bata yesterday would be enough to secure their progression from Group A, and Balboa’s spot-kick put them in front before a late second goal from Iban Salvador ensured they advanced to the last eight of the tournament for only the second time.Guinea

Gabon will feel hard done by with the opening goal, as Referee Noumandiez Doue harshly adjudged Lloyd Palun to have upended Balboa.

Equatorial Guinea will not care about that, though, after securing their first win of the competition to qualify as runners-up behind Congo.

Jorge Costa’s Gabon only needed a point from the final group game to go through, but bow out after following their opening win over Burkina Faso with successive defeats.

Raul Fabiani was preferred to Iban in attack for the hosts, who had the first chance to open the scoring in a scrappy start.

That opportunity came the way of Balboa after only eight minutes, but he fired a free-kick over the crossbar after goalkeeper Didier Ovono was harshly adjudged to have handled outside the penalty area when launching the ball upfield.

In the other Group A tie which was also played simultaneously, Congo exhibited a highly determined game to beat Burkina Faso 2-1 and thus qualify into the last eight alongside Equatorial Guinea.

It was Thievy Bifouma who powered Congo’s place in the quarter-finals with the opening goal before Fabrice N’Guessi Ondama struck late to secure the win after Aristide Bance had pulled out the short-lived equaliser.

For the first time since 1992, Congo have progressed to the last eight of the tournament after Claude Le Roy led them to the top of Group A with seven points.

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