Sports / Updates
Monday, 30 Jan 2017 14:03 EATtmatalanga@kenyafreepress.com
Ghana's Ayew brothers grabbed a goal each to beat Democratic Republic of Congo 2-1 and put the Black Stars through to the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals. Aston Villa's Jordan Ayew opened the scoring on 62 minutes, curling the ball past Ley Matampi in the Leopards goal.
Paul-Jose M'Poku equalized for DR Congo with a sensational long-range effort from outside the box but West Ham's Andre Ayew coolly dispatched a winning penalty, sending Matampi the wrong way to seal the win. The win over D.R Congo marked Ghana's sixth consecutive Nations Cup semi-finals appearance, as they seek to end an agonizing 35-year wait for a continental title.
In a game that only properly sparked to life in the second half in Oyem, Congo and their captain Dieumerci Mbokani in particular were left to rue several missed chances early on. The Hull City striker's best opportunity came on six minutes, after a terrible mix-up in the Ghana defense, but he hit the post when he had the goal at his mercy.
Mbokani later teed up the competition's top scorer Junior Kabananga on 25 minutes, who fired high over the bar. The Congolese talisman again broke through the Ghana defense, only to slice his chance into the side netting.
Ghana showed a lot more intent in the second half, with Wakaso whipping a free-kick at Matampi, who saved with his feet. Jordan Ayew the younger of the two brothers scored his first of the tournament, surging into the box and stroking the ball home confidently and decisively.
The lead lasted for only five minutes, when M'Poku unleashed a breathtaking long-range shot with the outer foot that arrowed into the top corner.
Ghana continued to press and were awarded a penalty when Christian Atsu went down in the box after contact from Lomalisa Mutambala, who was lucky not to receive a second yellow card. Andre Ayew calmly dispatched the spot-kick, sending Matampi the wrong way, to grab his second of the competition.
Leopards substitute Cedric Bakambu missed several chances to equalize in the final minutes, forcing a good save from Razak and finding space in the box at the death before shooting badly wide from close range.
Atsu could have finished it for Ghana in injury time, but the busy Matampi produced a great save at his feet. The Black Stars' celebrations at the end showed Avram Grant's side's relief at edging the contest.
Matalanga is a student of journalism at the East Africa School of Media Studies and an intern writer at the Kenya Free Press.