African Cup of Nations - Ivory Coast send Angola packing
Goals from Emmanuel Eboue and Wilfried Bony gave Ivory Coast's second string a 2-0 win over Angola in African Cup of Nations Group B, sending Lito Vidigal’s side crashing out of the tournament in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
In a half-empty Estadio de Malabo, Angola appeared to freeze, unable to get the point needed to qualify for the quarter-finals despite facing weakened opposition.
Meanwhile, group rivals Sudan stunned Burkina Faso 2-1 for their first win at this level, putting the troubled East African nation into the last eight on goal difference after they too finished on four points, the head-to-head and goals-scored tie-break rules rendered redundant in the end.
Ivory Coast had already qualified and, apparently unfussed about winning the group with a choice of Zambia or co-hosts Equatorial Guinea in the quarters, played a shadow team, the likes of Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure, Salomon Kalou and Gervinho watching on from the bench, although Drogba was given a run-out late on.
Angola only needed a draw to secure their passage but, despite fielding their strongest XI, looked content to sit back and slow the tempo in what was an uncharacteristically cagey affair for both sides, who normally attack with pace and vigour.
The Ivorian selection at least had points to prove as they sought to put themselves in the frame for the knockout stage, and it was they who created the opportunities as Bony forced a smart stop from Angola keeper Wilson, while Kolo Toure - one of the few regulars handed a start for this match - drilled a low free-kick wide.
So when the Elephants took the lead on 33 minutes, it was deserved - although the defending was a shambles as Miguel somehow failed to clear Wilfried’s low cross, which a sliding Eboue - playing as a winger - knocked in at the far post.
Almost immediately things went bad to worse for Palancas Negras as Sudan - who would go through if they won and Angola lost with a two-goal swing - took the lead against Burkina Faso.
That put Angola and Sudan level on points, head-to-head and goal difference, with Angola having the edge on goals scored; that was soon eroded as, 19 minutes into the second half, a lofted pass by sub Abdul Kader Keita caught defence and keeper napping, Wilson and Dani Massunguna’s wires totally crossed as the latter headed the ball over the former, Wilfried on hand to tap into an empty net.
With Sudan still winning 1-0, Angola entered a semi-state of panic, attacking the Ivorians with little result while the Elephants tore them apart on the break as Sol Bamba almost netted a third.
Manucho did draw a superb reflex stop from Daniel Yeboah, while a Massunguna header was cleared off the line by Kolo Toure.
But it matted not as Sudan had gone 2-0 up in their game, meaning the Angolans needed a two-goal swing or to level the match within 10 minutes.
It did not come as Sudan held on to their win despite a late Burkinabe goal, while the Ivorians barely broke a sweat in defending their lead.
Ivory Coast face co-hosts Equatorial Guinea in the last eight, while Sudan have a fighting chance against Group A winners Zambia.