Africa Cup of Nations - Group A
GabonGabon0Equatorial GuineaEquatorial Guinea2

Gabon 0-2 Equatorial Guinea

By Ian HughesBBC Sport
Javier Balboa (left) celebrates scoring the first goal for Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea goalscorer Javier Balboa has amassed 14 caps

Hosts Equatorial Guinea reached the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals by beating Gabon.

Equatorial Guinea, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, went through as Group A runners-up behind Congo.

Striker Javier Balboa made it 1-0 with a 55th-minute penalty after he had been fouled by Lloyd Palun.

And the tournament hosts added another when substitute Salvador Iban slotted home a rebound from striker Emilio Nsue's shot.

While Equatorial Guinea rose to the challenge, having gone into the game knowing only a win would send them into the knockout stages, Gabon were unable to raise their level when they needed to and paid for a cautious start.

Gabon will reflect on what might have been had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's powerful header not been superbly kept out by Equatorial Guinea keeper Ovono in the best chance of a lacklustre first half.

That opening was the only one of note created by either side in the opening period as Gabon appeared to play within themselves and the hosts' attitude and endeavour was let down by a lack of creativity.

Equatorial Guinea fans celebrate their team's win and send a message to their opponents
Equatorial Guinea fans celebrate their team's win and send a clear message to their opponents

Gabon, supposedly a far stronger outfit than their opponents, were guilty of perhaps thinking they could play within themselves and achieve a draw that would see them through.

Two second-half free-kicks in quick succession offered the Gabonese opportunities to assert some control but Equatorial Guinea keeper Ovono was equal to the efforts from Borussia Dortmund striker Aubameyang and then Charlton's Frederic Bulot.

It was the hosts who stepped through the gears, Balbo playing a one-two with striker Fabiani Bosio and drawing a foul from Palun. Balboa duly picked himself up to score from the spot-kick.

Equatorial Guinea increased the pressure on the Gabon goal after that, Doualla bringing a save from Didier Ovono and Balboa was also thwarted by the keeper when clean through.

They got their reward when Valencia teenager Iban tucked his shot away after Nsue's effort had been saved, sending the home fans into ebullient celebrations and dumping Gabon out of the competition.

That Equatorial Guinea have made it out of their group is a remarkable achievement given their coach Esteban Becker was appointed only 11 days before the tournament.

They had been eliminated from qualifying for fielding an ineligible player and were only reinstated in the competition when the country took over as hosts from Morocco following the Ebola crisis.

Now, the side ranked 118th in Fifa's global list will get at least one more chance to thrill the home fans as they continue on their road to redemption.

Iban shows his delight after sealing Equatorial Guinea's victory with his first international goal
Iban shows his delight after sealing Equatorial Guinea's victory with his first international goal

Line-ups

Gabon

Formation 4-1-4-1

  • 1Ovono
  • 8PalunBooked at 54mins
  • 2Appindangoye
  • 5Ecuele Manga
  • 6ObiangBooked at 16minsSubstituted forLengoualamaat 83'minutes
  • 17Biyogo PokoSubstituted forNdongat 69'minutes
  • 10Bulot
  • 11Madinda
  • 12KangaSubstituted forRogombeat 77'minutes
  • 9Aubameyang
  • 7Evouna

Substitutes

  • 3Lengoualama
  • 13Mbingui
  • 14Oto'o Zué
  • 15Ndong
  • 16Mfa Mezui
  • 18N'Doumbou
  • 19Ze Ondo
  • 20Sokambi
  • 21Rogombe
  • 22Ndong
  • 23Bitseki Moto

Equatorial Guinea

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Ovono
  • 8Iyanga TraviesoBooked at 19mins
  • 2Vázquez Evuy
  • 4Da Gracia Gomes
  • 16Bohale Aqueriaco
  • 21Zarandona EsonoBooked at 50mins
  • 18Ellong
  • 10NsueSubstituted forObama Nsue Ondoat 89'minutes
  • 11Balboa
  • 14SenobuaSubstituted forEdúat 68'minutesBooked at 86mins
  • 9Fabiani BosioSubstituted forEdjogo-Owono Montalbánat 76'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Engonga
  • 6Edjogo-Owono Montalbán
  • 7Belima
  • 12Bolado
  • 13Embela
  • 15Edú
  • 17Obama Nsue Ondo
  • 19Briones
  • 22Ganet
  • 23Darío
Referee:
Noumandiez Doue

Match Stats

Home TeamGabonAway TeamEquatorial Guinea
Possession
Home66%
Away34%
Shots
Home9
Away10
Shots on Target
Home4
Away6
Corners
Home6
Away6
Fouls
Home13
Away22

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Gabon 0, Equatorial Guinea 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Gabon 0, Equatorial Guinea 2.

  3. Post update

    Offside, Gabon. Romaric Rogombe tries a through ball, but Lévy Madinda is caught offside.

  4. Post update

    Lloyd Palun (Gabon) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Post update

    Javier Balboa (Equatorial Guinea).

  6. Post update

    Foul by Didier Ibrahim Ndong (Gabon).

  7. Post update

    Viera Ellong (Equatorial Guinea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  8. Post update

    Offside, Equatorial Guinea. Javier Balboa tries a through ball, but Ibán is caught offside.

  9. Post update

    Corner, Equatorial Guinea. Conceded by Bruno Ecuele Manga.

  10. Post update

    Romaric Rogombe (Gabon) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Randy (Equatorial Guinea).

  12. Post update

    Frédéric Bulot (Gabon) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Juvenal (Equatorial Guinea).

  14. Post update

    Bruno Ecuele Manga (Gabon) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Roben Obama Nsue Ondo (Equatorial Guinea).

  16. Substitution

    Substitution, Equatorial Guinea. Roben Obama Nsue Ondo replaces Emilio Nsue Lopez.

  17. Goal!

    Goal! Gabon 0, Equatorial Guinea 2. Ibán (Equatorial Guinea) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner.

  18. Post update

    Attempt saved. Emilio Nsue Lopez (Equatorial Guinea) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Javier Balboa.

  19. Post update

    Foul by Malick Evouna (Gabon).

  20. Post update

    Dani Evuy (Equatorial Guinea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.