Co-favourites Ivory Coast put on a solid performance and ended the hopes of co-hosts Equatorial Guinea with a resounding 3-0 win in the quarter final of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations 2012 in Malabo. The Elephants were marauding and showed intent from first whistle with pretty much all play happening in the hosts’ half and penalty box. Equatorial Guinea‘s defence was stretched and it looked a matter of time before the Ivorians scored. Max Gradel should have scored for the Elephants but after a couple of shots on target had been blocked he found himself with a chance but he sent his shot over the cross bar. Ivorian chance for the opener eventually came in the first half when Didier Zokora went down under a challenge by defender Ben Konate and captain Didier Drogba stepped up to take the penalty. Goalkeeper Danilo saved the sport kick much to the delight of the crowd.
Ivorians continued to dominate play and create chances. Drogba, Yaya Toure, Zokora and Gervinho were threatening each time they had possession. Drogba made amends when he picked up a ball in the box and with a sharp turn beat one defender before cutting back towards goal and shaking off another defender. The striker created space for himself and shot past Danilo beating him at his near post with a rasping shot. It was just deserves for the dominance by the Elephants.
After the break the hosts stepped up play and had Ivorian goalkeeper Boubacar Barry busy. In one such move the goalkeeper had to beat back into play after Randy connected with a powerful shot. The hosts enjoyed a short spell of domination and took the game to the Ivorians whose defence coped well with what was thrown at it.
Didier Drogba returned to snuff out the bright hopes that Equatorial Guinea was beginning to build with a tremendous goal his and the team’s second. It was vintage Drogba indeed as the striker jumped highest and turning in the air he headed powerfully past Danilo from a Yaya Toure free kick. The ball was in the back of the net before the keeper could move a muscle and the Ivorians were coasting. The goal was followed by more dominance and pressure from co-favourites as they turned on the performance. Gervinho could have added a third and so did Bony but their efforts went wide.
Equatorial Guinea did not give up and Kily went close to getting a consolation but Barry was equal to the shot and gave away a corner kick. The Ivorians managed to stop the danger from the resultant corner. Yaya Toure made it 3-0 with yet another classy goal on a night the Ivorian star players showed their quality. The midfielder curled in a beauty from a free-kick round the wall and it nested inside Danilo’s left had post.
The Ivorians could have had a fourth but substitute Wifried Bony’s shot was just wide as Ivorians opened up Equatorial Guinea defence at will. In the end Equatorial Guinea’s fine run was ended by a classy Ivory Coast and the Elephants marched into the semi-finals where they await the winner of Gabon and Mali clash and the co-hosts can be proud of their achievement at the finals, their first ever.