Burkina Faso edge Gabon to reach Cup of Nations quarterfinals
Burkina Faso held off a gallant rearguard action from 10-man Gabon to advance to the Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinals with a 7-6 victory on penalties after a 1-1 draw in their last-16 tie in Limbe on Sunday.
Ismahila Ouedraogo netted the decisive kick to ensure they are the first side into the last eight after an incident-packed and energy sapping clash.
After Burkina Faso skipper Bertrand Traore scored early, 10-man Gabon took the match into extra time after a dramatic last-minute equaliser.
But in the end the Burkinabe held their nerve in a dramatic shoot-out to advance. They will take on either Nigeria or Tunisia, who meet later on Sunday.
The first goal came after Traore ran onto a defence-splitting pass from teenager Dango Ouattara to hit home with a left footed effort from outside the penalty area in the 28th minute, as he beat the Gabon defence and the onrushing goalkeeper, with his effort sneaking in off the post.
It made up for a penalty Traore squandered some 11 minutes earlier when he crashed his effort against the crossbar — the ninth failed penalty attempt at the tournament in Cameroon.
The penalty was conceded by Gabon centre back Sidney Obissa, who picked up a second caution in the 67th minute for holding back an attacker and was sent off, leaving Gabon to complete almost half of the extended match down to 10.
Traore was continually threatening on the counter attack and Ouattara also had chances on the break as Gabon were caught often as they tried to sweep forward in searching of an equaliser.
Gabonese striker Boupendza had the ball in the net four minutes before halftime but was marginally offside.
Gabon goalkeeper Jean-Noel Amonome also blocked close-in effort from Blati Toure and Adama Guira in an action-filled final 10 minutes.
Gabonese captain Bruno Ecuele Manga struck with a late equaliser, timing his run perfectly into the penalty area to power his header home and rescue his side from imminent defeat.
The match went to spot kicks and it needed 18 penalties to settle the shoot-out with both sides squandering chances to win it before substitute Ouedraogo netted the winner. — Reuters
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