Emilio Nsue scored twice as Equatorial Guinea routed Ivory Coast 4-0 to leave the host nation on the verge of elimination from the Africa Cup of Nations on Monday.
The home team was left to rue a host of missed chances as Nsue opened the scoring before the break, and Pablo Ganet fired in a brilliant free kick after it, two minutes before the 34-year-old Nsue capped his performance with his fifth goal of the tournament.
Jannick Buyla completed the rout on a counterattack in the 88th.
It sent Equatorial Guinea into the knockout stage as group winner with seven points.
Nigeria defeated Guinea-Bissau 1-0 in the other Group A match to take second place on goal difference, while Ivory Coast was left with the faint hope that its three points will be enough to end among the four best third-place finishers who also go through to the last 16.
“When we saw the group stage, we saw we were playing two of the top teams in Africa, but we were in prayer,” said Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper Jesús Owono after his man-of-the-match performance. “I don’t know how far we can go. I know this team will work and do the same thing that we did today to reach as far as possible.”
Equatorial Guinea, the “National Thunder,” is only taking part for the fourth time.
Owono kept his team in the game by denying Nicolas Pépé in a one-on-one. The “Elephants” also had two goals ruled out through VAR for offside – Ibrahim Sangaré before the break and Jean-Philippe Krasso after it.
Owono’s counterpart, Yahia Fofana, had nothing to do until he picked the ball out of his net after Nsue fired the visitors ahead with their first attack in the 42nd. Carlos Akapo skipped through the Ivorian defense to set up Nsue and shock the fervent home fans at the 60,000-capacity Alassane Ouattara Stadium.
Opa Sanganté’s own-goal in the 36th minute was enough for Nigeria. The Guinea-Bissau defender was trying to cut out a cross for Victor Osimhen.
Osimhen again missed chances and his team’s lack of efficiency in yet another game will be a concern for “Super Eagles” coach José Peseiro.
Egypt and Ghana were battling later for second place in Group B with games against group winner Cape Verde and Mozambique, respectively. Only the top two are assured of progress.