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Cote d’Ivoire/Equatorial Guinea: Ivorian Stars Power Team to Afcon Semi-Finals

Cote d’Ivoire have advanced to the semi-finals of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations after a deserved 3-0 victory over co-hosts Equatorial Guinea at the Nuevo Estadio de Malabo on Saturday night.

The Ivorians could even afford to miss a penalty through Didier Drogba, though the veteran forward made up for his error with a fine solo goal later on in the first half, and then a header to complete his brace.

Yaya Toure showed why he is African Player of the Year with a stunning free kick to put the icing on the cake for Francois Zahoui’s men.

The Elephants now play the winner of Sunday’s quarter-final between Gabon and Mali in Libreville.

Cote d’Ivoire had four chances to score in a matter of seconds midway through the first half as first Gervinho, then Max Gradel, followed by Yaya Toure and Gradel again, all had efforts blocked by the scrambling Equatorial Guinea defence.

Gradel skied his second final over the bar when he really should have at least hit the target.

The Ivorians had an excellent chance to open the score after Didier Zokora was bundled over by home defender Rui as he raced on to Gradel’s pass, and referee Eddy Mallet correctly pointed to the spot.

Drogba stepped up to take the kick but his effort was saved by Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper Danilo, diving low to his right.

Didier Drogba celebrates the first goal of the quarter-final against Equatorial Guinea Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix

The Chelsea man was able to put that disappointment behind him with a fine individual effort, beating two defenders before firing low into the bottom corner of the net. Again Rui was at fault after giving up possession to Cote d’Ivoire’s leading man.

Gervinho forced a fine save from Danilo with a header in the second half though the assistant referee’s flag was up for offside in any event.

And the Arsenal man should have made it 2-0 just past the hour mark. He he raced into the box but just when he seemed set to unleash a shot, he took a heavy touch that allowed Danilo to smother the ball.

Cote d’Ivoire did get their second on 69 minutes, though, as Yaya Toure floated the free kick into the area and Drogba out-muscled his marker, Rui, to meet the ball with his head and this time leave Danilo with no chance.

Toure got the third with a super curling free kick that again left Danilo helpless and underlined the quality of this Ivorian side.

Wilfried Bony should have made it 4-0 in injury time when he missed the simplest of chances after being set up by Gervinho, but by then all the hard work had been done by the rampant Ivorians and it mattered little that he ballooned the ball over the bar.

Nick Said |4 February 2012 | AllAfrica |


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