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Africa Cup of Nations

  • February 4, 2012
  • • 2:00 PM
  • • Nuevo Estadio de Malabo, Malabo
  • Referee: E. Maillet
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Cote d'Ivoire 3-0 Equatorial Guinea: Drogba brace and Yaya Toure cracker send Elephants into the semifinals as co-host exits with pride

Cote d'Ivoire 3-0 Equatorial Guinea: Drogba brace and Yaya Toure cracker send Elephants into the semifinals as co-host exits with pride

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The Elephants defeated the Nzalang Nationale in the last eight encounter thanks to the Chelsea attacker's ninth and 10th Afcon strikes and Toure's sublime set piece

Africa Cup of Nations co-host Equatorial Guinea faced its biggest challenge of the tournament so far on Saturday night when it took on favorite Cote d'Ivoire in the quarterfinals, and it was the Elephants who came out on top at the Nuevo Estadio de Malabo with a 3-0 win.

Didier Drogba put his side ahead in the first half, before making it 2-0 with his 54th strike for the Elephants. Yaya Toure finished the game off with a top quality free kick.

Following a minute of silence in memory of the Egyptian victims involved in Wednesday's tragic clashes, the Ivorians made their intentions clear early on with a second minute chance, but Drogba's side-footed volley did not trouble Equatorial Guinea keeper Danilo.

On eight minutes Cote d'Ivoire created another chance out of nothing, with Max Gradel taking a strike from long distance, but his powerful effort skipped just wide of Danilo's post. The Nzalang Nationale threatened on occasion, with counterattacks proving to be their weapon of choice, but the Elephants were the dominant side throughout the first half.

In the 22nd minute Gervinho produced a great dribble to find some space within the box, but his shot was saved before a succession of efforts from Yaya Toure and then Gradel were blocked by the determined Equatorial Guinea defense.

In the 27th minute the Elephants won a penalty when an onrushing Didier Zokora was brought down in the box, but 29-year-old Equatorial Guinea keeper Danilo stretched wide to make an incredible save from Drogba's spot kick, keeping it goalless.

But the Chelsea striker would not need to wait long to make up for his miss, and in the 36th minute the Elephants took the lead when Drogba did well to turn two Nzalang Nationale defenders before finishing with a typically precise strike in the bottom corner that left an in-form Danilo beaten and bewildered.

Both sides displayed flashes of brilliant passing ability, and Equatorial Guinea finished the half well with a promising strike from Randy Iyanga, but Copa Barry was equal to the task and the first half ended 1-0.

Cote d'Ivoire trainer Francois Zahoui seemed agitated on the bench, perhaps sensing that the one goal would not be enough to defeat the co-host, but at this stage much of the play took place in midfield, until the hour mark when Gradel pulled off a mesmerizing dribble in the box before his pass couldn't find Gervinho and was intercepted by the defense.

Gilson Paulo's men would suffer further heartache in the 69th minute, however, as Drogba scored his second of the encounter with a bullet header from a pinpoint Yaya Toure cross, making it 2-0 for the AFCON favorite.

The Ivorians were not yet done, however, and in the 81st minute Yaya Toure put it beyond the co-host with a sublime free kick that would have beaten any goalkeeper, crashing off the inside of the post and into the top corner of the goal.

The last few minutes of the match were uneventful, with a long range effort from Rui Fernando proving to be the co-host's last contribution to this AFCON, as it ended 3-0 in favor of Cote d'Ivoire.

The Elephants are yet to concede a goal in the tournament thus far, and will be feeling confident after sending out an impressive message to the other teams still involved. The co-host should be proud of its efforts at the AFCON, as this was its debut in the competition and the team did well to reach the last eight.

Cote d'Ivoire progresses to the semifinals of the 2012 AFCON to be played on Wednesday, where it will face the winner of Sunday's quarterfinal clash between Mali and co-host Gabon.

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