Atsu double leads Ghana to win vs. Guinea, berth in AFCON semifinals
MALABO, Equatorial Guinea (AP) — Christian Atsu scored two goals and Kwesi Appiah added another Sunday to help Ghana advance to the African Cup quarterfinals for the fifth straight time with a 3-0 victory over Guinea.
Atsu, who plays in England for Everton, put the Black Stars ahead in the fourth minute by scoring after a backheel pass from Andre Ayew. He added another in the 61st, whipping in a shot from the right side.
Appiah scored the second goal of the match in the 44th, controling a horrible defensive mistake from Baissama Sankoh and beating Guinea goalkeeper Naby Yattara.
Yattara was given a red card in injury time for a foul on Asamoah Gyan. Abdoulaye Cisse then played in goal for the final seconds.
Ghana, a four-time champion which last reached the African Cup of Nations final in 2010 but lost to Egypt, will next face host Equatorial Guinea in the semifinals on Thursday in Malabo.
Ghana came into the match as the favorite, and needed only a few minutes to take the lead. Appiah took the ball down the left side before passing to Ayew in the area, and the Marseille forward then used his heel to slide the ball to Atsu for the goal.
The match slowed for most of the next 40 minutes, with Guinea captain Ibrahima Traore doing his best to create chances for his team.
Ghana has been one of the best teams in Africa in recent years, reaching the quarterfinals at the 2010 World Cup to go along with its string of semifinal appearances at the African Cup. The Black Stars last won the African tournament in 1982.
This year, the team is coached by former Chelsea manager Avram Grant, who took the London club to the Champions League final in 2008 after replacing Jose Mourinho.
Guinea needed a touch of luck just to make it this far. The team finished tied with Mali after both teams drew 1-1 in all three Group D matches. But Guinea advanced after winning a drawing of lots on Thursday.
Just qualifying for the 2015 tournament was a surprise for many, however. Guinea is one of the three worst affected countries of the Ebola outbreak and the national team was forced to play its home qualifying matches outside its borders.