Senegal beats Ghana with last-minute goal at African Cup of Nations
MONGOMO, Equatorial Guinea (AP) — Senegal came from behind to win 2-1 with a last-minute goal on Monday, striking a big blow to Ghana's qualification chances at the African Cup of Nations.
Substitute Moussa Sow stole victory right at the end in the Group C opener after Senegal had gone behind early and then dominated after that.
Senegal missed a string of chances in the second half before Sow hit the winner in the 93rd minute at Mongomo Stadium, starting the group off with a surprise.
"It's very simple. We know that we are capable of beating any team in this competition," Senegal goalkeeper and captain Bouna Coundoul said.
Regular Ghana skipper Asamoah Gyan had to watch from the dugout after the striker was diagnosed with mild malaria over the weekend and spent a night in the hospital in far-eastern Equatorial Guinea.
At the beginning, Ghana was the better team — even without Gyan — and Andre Ayew stroked home a 14th-minute penalty after Christian Atsu was fouled by Coundoul.
But Senegal produced long periods of pressure in the second half and Mame Biram Diouf equalized with a header in the 66th after his initial effort bounced back to him off the post. Substitute Sow scored at the very end with a low shot, when Ghana was clinging on, sending the small section of Senegalese fans in the Ghana-dominated ground crazy.
It also sent new Ghana coach Avram Grant to a defeat in his first game at the African Cup. Grant called the match a "big physical fight" as the Senegal team muscled its way to victory, leaving Ghana desperate for a win and with Algeria and South Africa still to come.
"We don't want this result that has happened," Grant said, "but I'm sure as you saw the players showed good mentality and we hope it will be the same next game."
Senegal was overlooked by many in Group C with Algeria, Ghana and South Africa tipped as the leading teams in what's probably the tournament's toughest group. The victory was a big boost for the Senegalese with equally hard games to come.
"It's good to have three points, but nothing is done yet," coach Alain Giresse said.
Without Gyan, Ayew took over the armband and hit his penalty straight down the middle after Atsu scampered after a through ball and was brought down by Coundoul. Atsu missed a clear opening of his own around 10 minutes later, slicing a shot wide when through on goal.
But Senegal began to turn the tide from midway through the first half, when Diouf thundered a spectacular overhead kick at goal and forced Razak Braimah to leap and tip it over.