Trouble flares as Ghana seal final berth

Ghana 3 Equatorial Guinea 0

Crowd trouble marred the end of the African Nations Cup semi-final between hosts Equatorial Guinea and Ghana in Malabo as the Ghana fans were forced to flee the stands after being pelted with bottles.

The match, which Ghana won 3-0, was suspended for around half an hour when the Black Stars supporters had to leave the stands and take refuge behind one of the goals after being bombarded with objects from rival supporters.

Bottles could be seen scattered across the running track which surrounded the pitch, while there were reports of tear gas being fired into the stands in a bid to control the Equatorial Guinea fans.

The referee stopped the match and the players were left waiting in the middle of the pitch to find out if the match would restart, with the Equatorial Guinea players pleading with their fans to calm down.

Plenty of fans left the stadium as the suspension dragged on, while a helicopter hovered over the ground.

Ghana supporters appeared to be escorted away by police through the tunnel, with reports of Equatorial Guinea supporters waiting for them outside the stadium.

The match had eight minutes left to go when the trouble occurred and it looked set to be abandoned, but incredibly was allowed to continue, players clearing bottles off the pitch before the game restarted in the 90th minute.

Three minutes of injury-time were played without incident.

Equatorial Guinea only stepped in to host the tournament at the 11th hour after Morocco pulled out due to the Ebola epidemic.

Having never qualified for a World Cup, their only previous African Nations Cup campaign was in 2012 when they reached the quarter-finals.

They went one better than that by knocking Tunisia out in the last eight in the most dramatic of circumstances, but that achievement was soured by last night’s events.

Leicester’s Ghanaian player Jeff Schlupp wrote on Twitter: “Absolutely embarrassing! Just let us go to the final and win this tournament in peace! #Ghana #BlackStars.”

Ghana’s win came thanks to two goals at the end of the first half and a third in the second and booked a final meeting with Ivory Coast, although the match action was overshadowed by off-field events.

Avram Grant’s side twice punished mistakes to all but kill off the underdogs, Jordan Ayew converting a 42nd-minute penalty after Felipe Ovono had raced out of his goal and clattered into Kwesi Appiah and then, three minutes later, Wakaso Mubarak finishing off a swift counter-attack after Equatorial Guinea had left themselves wide open at the back following a corner.

Andre Ayew tapped home a third in the 75th minute.

GHANA: Razak, Afful, Boye, Mensah, Baba, Wakaso (Agyemang-Badu 76), Afriyie, Atsu, Jordan Ayew, Andre Ayew (Acheampong 82), Appiah.

EQUATORIAL GUINEA: Ovono, Evuy (Fabiani 58), Mbele, Rui, Ruben Belima, Kike, Zarandona (Ganet 82), Ellong, Balboa, Iban (Sipo Bohale 74), Nsue.

Referee: Eric Otogo-Castane (Gabon).

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