Ghana beat Mali to reach last eight in Nations Cup

Reuters , Saturday 21 Jan 2017,
Asamoah Gyan
Ghana's forward Asamoah Gyan celebrates after scoring a goal during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations group D football match between Ghana and Mali in Port-Gentil on January 21, 2017 (Photo: AFP)

Ghana became the second team at the African Nations Cup to book a quarter-final place after veteran striker Asamoah Gyan scored the only goal of the game against Mali in Group D on Saturday.

A second successive 1-0 win for Ghana ensured they progressed past the group stage for the sixth successive tournament, although they needed two late saves from goalkeeper Razak Brimah to make sure of the victory.

Gyan delivered a power header in the 20th minute to set up the win after Ghana had beaten Uganda by the same score line in their opening match.

They joined Senegal as teams through to next weekend's knockout phase in Gabon.

There was a shocking miss from Andre Ayew after 17 minutes as the Mali defence was breached by a skilful burst from Christian Atsu.

He laid a square pass in the direction of Jordan Ayew but his elder brother got in the way of what looked an easy tap-in, but recovered to control the ball and turn towards goal, only to put his shot wide from right in front of the target.

Ghana only had to dwell on the missed opportunity for four minutes before going ahead as Jordan Ayew whipped in a perfect cross, met by a powerful header from Gyan who steered it wide of a despairing dive from Oumar Sissoko.

Aston Villa striker Ayew then had a shot saved just after the half hour mark by Sissoko, who had to deal with a difficult bounce on an uneven surface.

Mali brought on midfield playmaker Yves Bissouma after halftime to lift them out of a slumber and he orchestrated a vastly improved showing, with chances finally being created.

The first for Moussa Marega went wide before Brimah pulled off a point-blank save to deny Kalifa Coulibaly and stopped a rasping volley from Bakary Sako two minutes into stoppage time.

Mali have a single point and need to beat Uganda in their last game to stand any chance of progress alongside the Ghanaians.

Seven-times champions Egypt play Uganda later on Saturday in the second Group D game at the newly built stadium in Port Gentil. 

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports)

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