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Côte d’Ivoire won Wednesday against Equatorial Guinea (1-0). A victory without forcing which offers him the head of group E of the African Cup of Nations, ahead of Algeria.
The important thing is the three points. Minimum service for Côte d’Ivoire which won without shining, Wednesday, January 12, against a combative but powerless Equatorial Guinea (1-0). A success that allows the Ivorians to take the lead in group E of la CAN-2022 and to put pressure on Algeria after their poor performance against Sierra Leone.
The Elephants, stronger on paper and perfectly organized by their French coach Patrice Beaumelle, owed their salvation to a nice goal from Max-Alain Gradel (5th), the former Toulouse and Saint-Étienne player, on a shot powerful from the right, at the very start of the match, after a lost ball, then recovered, then badly revived by the Guinean defense.
Winners of the CAN in 2015, the Ivorians were deprived of their number 1 goalkeeper, Sylvain Gbohouo, suspended for doping, but could count on a top-of-the-range attacking trio: on the right, Gradel, who plays today in Turkey at Sivasspor, on the left, the ex-Lyonnais today at Burnley Maxwel Cornet, and the current best Champions League scorer (10 goals in 6 matches), Sébastien Haller (Ajax Amsterdam).
The Equatoguineans fired more
But the big Haller (1m90), deprived of balls, never found the opening and the Ivorians dominated, but ultimately shot less often than the Nzalang Nacional. The Equatorial Guineans even finished the first period very well and could have obtained a penalty to equalise.
There was a penalty for Equatorial Guinea. Mind-blowing… #EQGCIV
– Nabil Djellit (@Nabil_djellit) January 12, 2022
The Ivorian armada renewed its workforce in the last half hour and the substitutes, around Nicolas Pépé and Wilfried Zaha, tried everything. Grandpa, twice in one minute (80th minute), even had the break point at the end of his foot.
The first time, all alone at the penalty spot after a long raid by Ghislain Konan, the Arsenal striker sent the ball into the clouds of Douala. The second time, his shot low to the ground, on target, forced the Guinean goalkeeper, Manuel Sapunga, to lie down to ward off the danger. And Zaha, in stoppage time, also had the 2-0 ball at the end of the left foot, but his shot was too crossed.
This victory is not convincing but it is crucial for Côte d’Ivoire in this group E of which it takes the lead. It will meet Algeria in its third match, which drew with Sierra Leone on Tuesday. And the Algerians would be well advised to be wary of the Equatorial Guineans in the next game.
Relive the match with our liveblog: