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Thursday, 18 January 2024 19:06

Nsue nets hat trick as Equatorial Guinea beats Guinea-Bissau 4-2 in AFCON.

By Ben Miller.

Emilio Nsue scored a hat-trick as Equatorial Guinea closed in on the knockout stages of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations by thrashing Guinea-Bissau.

Nsue slotted in the first-half opener and struck twice after the break for the first Afcon treble since 2008.

Esteban Orozco's own goal sent the sides in level at half-time but Josete Miranda's strike restored Equatorial Guinea's lead early in the second half.

Ze Turbo netted a consolation for Guinea-Bissau in stoppage time.

The result sends Equatorial Guinea top of Group A on four points before hosts Ivory Coast face Nigeria (17:00 GMT) and puts Juan Micha's side on the brink of a place in the last 16 following their 1-1 draw against Nigeria on Sunday.

It was a memorable day for Nsue, the 34-year-old former Middlesbrough and Birmingham City man, who took advantage of slack defending to net a first Afcon hat-trick since Morocco's Soufiane Alloudi in a group-stage encounter against Namibia 16 years ago.

Nsue pounced for his first as he lifted the ball in via goalkeeper Ouparine Djoco's leg after Guinea-Bissau captain Sori Mane had failed to deal with Pablo Ganet's routine through ball.

The Djurtus (Wild Dogs) had gone two full Afcon tournaments without finding the net but Franculino's pressure paid off as Orozco turned in a cross from close range to make it 1-1 eight minutes before half-time, with referee Samuel Uwikunda confirming the goal following the first of a string of VAR checks.

Guinea-Bissau were then was awarded a penalty two minutes later, when Saul Coco was initially booked for his attempt to stop Franculino from shooting after he reached Mauro Rodrigues' perceptive low pass.

Uwikunda used his pitchside monitor to rule that Coco had not clipped the back of the forward's heels and Equatorial Guinea took advantage early in the second half when goalkeeper Jesus Owono's long ball bounced on the edge of the opposition penalty area, and Miranda met it with a ruthless first-time finish.

Nsue claimed his second when Djoco made a mess of dealing with Basilio Ndong's cross five minutes later, and the striker produced the finest of his finishes when he collected Jose Machin's pass, sauntered around Djoco and netted from a tight angle.

He survived a tense wait while a check for offside confirmed his hat-trick and the 20th goal of his international career, extending his record as Equatorial Guinea's record scorer.

Guinea-Bissau notched their second when Ze Turbo latched on to fellow second-half substitute Dalcio's right-wing cross in added time to prod deftly into the far corner of the net with the outside of his left foot.

Only an elastic Owono reflex save prevented them from reducing the deficit to one again, turning to parry Jefferson Encada's deflected long-range strike deep into added time.

Guinea-Bissau are bottom of the group but have the consolation of ending the record goalless run they held for a team at the tournament, which had spanned almost 14 hours of football since they scored in a 2-1 defeat by Cameroon in 2017.

Baciro Cande's players return to action against Nigeria at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium on Monday (17:00 GMT), when they will seek a first ever Afcon win in their 12th match across four appearances at the finals.