A hard working Black Stars team benefited from Mathlouthi's goalkeeping error to earn a date with Zambia in the 2012 Afcon semi-finals
A huge mistake from Tunisian goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi gifted Ghana's Andre Ayew a simple winner at the Franceville stadium during the last quarter-final of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
It was a slow start with both sides taking their time to settle into the match. Despite the lack of tempo, Ghana were first off the mark when John Mensah met Emmanuel Badu’s corner on 10 minutes to give his team an early lead and continue a trend of Black Stars efficiency on set pieces at the 2012 Afcon.
Things could have gotten worse for the north Africans shortly thereafter when a glancing header at the near post nearly found its way inside Mathlouthi’s back post.
Sami Trabelsi’s side heeded the warning and began finding some traction in midfield. A foul on Zouhaier Dhaouadi gave Tunisia an opportunity to level the score with a well-placed free kick, but Khalil Chammam’s left-footed strike was too high to trouble Adam Kwarasey.
On 29 minutes, the Carthage Eagles had a penalty shout turned down after Youssef Msakni cleverly played in Saber Khalifa behind Samuel Inkoom. The Evian striker eventually would have the better of his marker just before the half when he headed in a Dhaouadi cross to equalise for his country.
An over-eager referee led to a continuation of the stop-start affair in the second half. Asamoah Gyan had one chance snuffed out by Aymen Abdennour. Later, a slip by Isaac Vorsah almost allowed Jamel Saihi to give Tunisia the lead on 61 minutes but Mensah was on hand to cover for his team-mate.
Things began to open up in the last half an hour and Gyan tried his luck from just outside the penalty area after turning Abdennour. The Toulouse defender then led a counterattack that nearly bore fruit in the 69th minute. Youssef Msakni got into the act on the ensuing possession but his strike was deflected over the bar by Vorsah.
Ghana responded with a direct Ayew corner that forced a decent save from Mathlouthi and the Tunisian goalkeeper answered the call once more when he parried Gyan’s excellent volley. On the other end, Kwarasey also had a save to make in the closing stages of the match when Issam Jemaa put in a powerful drive from distance.
A dream start to extra-time was wiped away for the Tunisians when Issam Jemaa’s goal was ruled offside. After saving his team on more than one occasion the Carthage Eagles keeper made a nightmare blunder to allow Ayew to put the Black Stars on top.
Tunisia were to finish with 10-men after a harsh straight red card saw Abdennour take an early shower and the north Africans’ tried in vain to equalise and send the match to penalty kicks. Ghana held firm and have booked a semi-final encounter with Zambia.